About a year-and-a-half ago, Modern Tire Dealer wrote a story on ransomware, which the FBI defines as "a form of malware that targets your critical data and systems for the purpose of extortion.”

The cost of ransomware to U.S. businesses is hard to quantify. In 2016, businesses paid out an estimated $1 billion, compared to $24 million the previous year, based on FBI data. However, those numbers only take into account known victims.

At the time, Cybersecurity Ventures, as part of a report sponsored by the Herjavec Group, estimated the annual cost of global cybercrime will reach $6 trillion a year by 2021, with ransomware accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of that total. The number of incidents and cost to businesses since then have done nothing to change those predictions.

Here's how ransomware works. “After the user has been locked out of the data or system, the cyber actor demands a ransom payment," says the FBI. "After receiving payment, the cyber actor will purportedly provide an avenue to the victim to regain access to the system or data.”

Note the use of the word "purportedly." There is no guarantee that the criminal will, indeed, give access back to the business, which is why the FBI suggests not paying the ransom.

Tire retailers and wholesalers -- big and small -- have not been immune to either ransomware targeting or cyberattacks. For example, last May, Matlock Tire Service & Auto Repair, a four-outlet dealership based in East Tennessee, reportedly was targeted by cybercriminals when its owner, Jimmy Matlock, was running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Associated Press quoted campaign spokesman Greg Butcher as saying the website attacks were unsuccessful because the business "spent thousands of dollars on security upgrades and shut down the server multiple times."

The purpose behind the cyberattacks against Matlock Tire Service was not ransom, but the theory behind protecting the business is the same. Vigilance is crucial. Spending money to continually upgrade or patch your business software is necessary.

For more information on ransomware, check out "Beware of ransomware." The story lists eight preventive measures you can take to help guard against cyberattacks.

Don't take your business software for granted. As a spokesperson for the Herjavec Group chillingly pointed out in a recent blog, "The reality is that ransomware will never go away."

Author

Bob Ulrich
Bob Ulrich

Editor, Retired

Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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