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[March 23, 2014]
Rescuing data from ransom [Boston Herald :: ]
(Boston Herald (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 23--A cloud backup firm is flourishing thanks to a malicious software capable of wiping out all of a government agency's, business' or PC user's data in one fell swoop unless the victim pays a ransom.
Intronis this year plans to add 45 employees to the 80 it has in Chelmsford and is eyeing undisclosed competitors to acquire as CryptoLocker and copycat "ransomware" wreak havoc, infecting more than 12,000 computers in the space of a single week alone, according to security software maker Bitdefender Labs.
"It's a diabolical twist on an old scam," said Intronis CEO Rick Faulk. "All your files are frozen. If you pay the ransom, they tell you you'll get a key to unlock your files. If you don't pay, all your files are destroyed. You might as well take your computer and drop it off a bridge." Intronis protects against such "gremlins," which often are unleashed when people click on a link or an attachment from someone they don't know, Faulk said.
"We copy all of your data to our servers, located off site, so you can get your data back," he said.
The 11-year-old company charges by the gigabyte, an amount that can total "between the low hundreds and low thousands of dollars per year" -- "very inexpensive insurance for what you're getting," Faulk said.
Last November, Swansea police ponied up $750 online for an encryption key to unlock their files after CryptoLocker ransomware installed a timer on their computers, giving them 100 hours to pay.
"CryptoLocker is prolific; the FBI has come across numerous cases in the United States and around the world," Jennifer Shearer, an FBI spokeswoman, said in an email. "No one has been prosecuted to date." Because each circumstance is different, Shearer declined to advise people whether they should pay the ransom.
"Ideally, everyone would back up his computer files; that's just good cyber hygiene," she said. "If a user will lose files of great personal or professional value and does not have any other way to recover that information, he should consider the time it would take to recreate those files and whether or not it's worth paying a ransom." Even paying one, however, is no guarantee that people will get their files back, said Eric Kuznitz, vice president of Wizard Computer Services, a Canton company that provides Intronis' backup solution to its clients.
"We had a client pay a ransom before they called us, so they lost their money and their files," he said.
Besides never clicking on links or attachments from people you don't know, Kuznitz recommended making sure your computers and servers are updated regularly and your important data is backed up, ideally both on and off site, in case of a break-in or fire.
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