An unfortunate story today from Fox2Now.com:
All computers at St. Louis Public Library locations are inoperable. The library says that they have been hacked and over 700 computers at 16 branches computers are being held for ransom.
Hackers install programs to make computers or entire networks unable to function. They will then hold the information or hardware for ransom until an amount of money is paid. Once the money is paid then the computers and information are generally restored.
It is not clear if any personal information has been breached. This ransomware attack affects both computers available to the public and those used for staff and administration.
The St. Louis Public Library is dealing with a nightmare scenario, most likely. Ransomware is a computer virus that "locks" all the files on your computer, and/or network, rendering them unusable until a ransom is paid to the person or organization that infected you. Unfortunately, it's a common and extremely expensive headache in the business world -- we were a victim recently ourselves -- yet it's one that is so easily avoided with some forethought and preparation.
According to CNN, Cyber-criminals collected $209 million in the first three months of 2016 alone by extorting businesses and institutions to unlock computer servers. At that rate, ransomware most likely became a billion dollar industry last year.
In a similar case to the St. Louis Public Library's, a South Carolina school district had to pay about $10,000 to rid ransomware from their servers.
What saved us from having to spend any time or money on our ransomware infection?
Mozy, our cloud backup service. We're an authorized reseller and we use it ourselves. When we were attacked recently, we were able to basically ignore the infection and restore the compromised files from our backup. Even better, we lost almost no data because Mozy runs continuously in the background on our computers, keeping our backups constantly up to date.
According to CNN the hackers demanded $35,000 in the electronic currency Bitcoin -- but the library refuses to pay. Instead, it'll wipe the entire computer system and reset it, which could take days or weeks.