Ransomware is Still a Threat and Even the Big Guys Can Get Hit


Tech Talk show notes for Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Listen live Tuesday mornings on WTCA FM 106.1 and AM 1050 in Plymouth, Indiana.

Sorry for the late post, but this past week has been a busy one! Usually, I try to get my Tech Talk info on the blog information posted the same day, but sometimes work gets in the way. Go figure!

But I digress. On the show this week I talked about how Garmin got hit with a ransomware attack. Garmin is well-known for its GPS devices, but they also make a broad assortment of other tech items, particularly wearables. Last weekend, the ransomware attack took down some of Garmin’s services and impacted an unknown number of customers. Thankfully, Garmin says that they don’t believe any of their customer data was compromised.

So when a multi-million dollar company gets hit by ransomware, should you be surprised? The simple answer is “yes” but it’s more complicated than that. Garmin obviously has a ton of IT people who are working diligently to prevent stuff like this from happening. Then again, even with an army of computer guys constantly monitoring systems, it still happened. It’s surprising but not entirely unexpected. At one point or another, it’s possible that your small business or even your computer at home will get hit with a ransomware attack.

How do I protect Grandma?

If the IT army at Garmin can’t protect themselves from an attack, how do you protect Grandma from ransomware? That’s not a simple answer either, but there are a few things you can do.

Get a Good Antivirus Program

If you’re a home user, consider buying a Malwarebytes subscription. It’s only $40 a year for a single PC and it does a wonderful job of detecting little problems before they become major problems. Malwarebytes has real-time protection and a browser guard. I’ve been surprised how many times Malwarebytes has saved me from visiting a compromised website in the last few months.

If you own a business, consider one of our managed service options. Apheus offers both Malwarebytes and Webroot as a service. These are both great options.

Educate Grandma

The human component is one of the weakest links in the fight against ransomware. In fact, it’s usually the root cause of most problems. Grandma will download an attachment, click on something she shouldn’t be clicking on, or installing a program that she has no business installing. The education of anyone who operates a computer is critical in defending them against a ransomware attack.

Backup, Backup, Backup

I cannot stress enough how important backups are. In the Garmin incident, I’m absolutely sure that they were doing backups and began the process of restoring their servers after the attack.

I’ve talked about backups on the Tech Talk show many times before and I’ve written about it as well. Still, I feel like my calls-to-action fall on deaf ears. Some of my customers refuse to acknowledge the fact that their digital lives are stored on their hard drives. If something happens to that hard drive, like a ransomware attack, you’re basically done unless you pay the ransom. In Garmin’s case, they wanted $10 million to release the encryption. Now I don’t think that a ransomware attacker will try charging Grandma $10 million, but can she really afford even $500? Your best line of defense to backup your files. Back them up using the 3-2-1 strategy and you should be fine.