Garmin is in trouble. The famous manufacturer of sports, outdoor and fitness technology was brought to its knees by a ransomware attack in mid-2020, prompting days of outages. It’s not the first organization to fall victim to this kind of attack though, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Ransomware has grown in popularity in recent years, and it’s taken down everything from individuals to state governments. But what is it? And how does it work?

A ransomware attack is basically a high-tech data kidnapping.

A ransomware program is a piece of malware that gets into a network or individual system through an insecure access point. Maybe there’s a port that gets left open so hackers can sneak in the back door. Maybe somebody clicked on a bad link in their email. Or maybe they clicked an advertisement and were the victims of a drive-by download through an exploit kit.

Whatever the cause, once ransomware is in, it can do several different things depending on what strain it is.

Some ransomware just locks your screen, freezing you out of your system but not damaging the underlying file system. But more insidious ransomware goes deeper. It will encrypt the entire file system, making it impossible to recover data on your computer or network without paying the ransom for the decryption key.

Among these types of ransomware, there are variants that can even extract files instead of just locking them, opening companies up to huge privacy violations and theft of confidential information.

Hackers will ask for a ransom, often in the hard-to-trace online currency Bitcoin. Once the ransom is paid, the hackers will release the files and give control of the computer or network back to the people it belongs to. But even if they do that, the ransomware is still in the system, waiting to be reactivated any time the hackers want more money.

Ransomware is a huge problem for computer security, and if you’re hit with a ransomware attack without proper offsite backups you’ll lose time, money, precious confidential data and the trust of your customers.

Staying ahead of hackers is critical. That’s why TeamLogic IT devotes so much time to the security of our clients. Contact us today to find out how we can help you secure your network.