With global ransomware cyber attacks making headlines, one local expert says businesses in Wichita and beyond need to be serious about protecting their technology systems and networks.
Dave Cunningham, founder of Wichita-based custom software development business Flint Hills Group, offers some unnerving numbers to underscore that seriousness as part of a presentation he makes to businesses that he will also make on July 26 at the Rotary Club of East Wichita. Ransomware typically starts with a phishing email that gets the virus into a system and locks it, with payment subsequently being demanded, often in the form of Bitcoin, by the hackers in exchange for their unlocking the infected system.
First, Cunningham says, it's important to realize just how prevalent ransomware has become.
When the first ransomware versions started popping up in 2015 there were only 10 or so of them altogether, he says.
In 2017, he says, there have been 10 new ones every month.
And it’s growing in popularity with hackers because of the money involved.
“It’s a billion-dollar business,” Cunningham says. “It’s big, big money. That’s why it’s growing.” And, though what the hackers are doing amounts to robbing business owners, there is little those owners can do about it even if they successfully track the malicious software to its source.
That’s because, Cunningham says, most of the hackers operate out of countries where there are no extradition rights.
And they have a surprising amount of support for their cybercrime activities.
Cunningham says there are $175 kits that can be bought to get their ransomware business off the ground.
There are even help desks the hackers can call for ransomware advice and support.
All of that serves to highlight the importance of businesses making sure they are defended against such attacks beforehand.
Such a service is among those offered by Flint Hills Group.
Unfortunately, Cunningham says, few customers have taken them up on that.
What they have seen an increase in, however, are those customers calling them after the fact looking for help on a cyber attack that has already made it through.