The CryptoLocker Disaster


     This is a true story about a successful local business called Cima International. They are a distribution company for Nolan motorcycle helmets and other motorcycle related things. This business had all their Microsoft Office documents attacked and encrypted by the CryptoLocker virus. Harry MacPherson, owner of Cima said, “Years of work were lost, because the IN-HOUSE BACKUP was also attacked and encrypted.” In Cima’s case, having a valid backup did not help in any way to restore the encrypted data. Once you save the encrypted data to all copies of an in-house backup system, sorry, but you are encrypted for good. Since September of 2013, CryptoLocker has attacked and infected more than 200,000 computers.


     It cannot be emphasized enough that critical data MUST BE BACKED UP, but how, exactly? Best practices says that it should be a cloud backup, off-site and should contain multiple versions spread out over at least 2 weeks. It is also highly recommended to back EVERYTHING up at least once every three months with an in-house backup system that can be carried off-site. Something like a portable external hard drive or NAS device.


     There is NO guarantee that the criminals running CryptoLocker will ever fix any of the mess they create. If the decryption key they give to you does not work, they don’t care. It will cost you more MONEY to try again and the EXTORTION of MONEY is what this is all about! 

     PC Methods offers the award winning Brella backup and it is standard procedure here to make sure the backup set has, at the very least, 4 versions that are retained for 2 weeks. Backups occur daily! This “best practices” procedure works very well for File and Folder Backups, SQL Backups and Exchange Backups. It requires an expert to handle this, someone with an IT background who has taken the time to learn about cloud backups and in-house backup devices. The staff accountant or the staff person who just happens to be handy with computers is NOT going to be able to establish correct, valid backup procedure that can be used to successfully restore your lost or encrypted data. The criminals at CryptoLocker are counting on you NOT spending the money on a backup expert and just delegating the job off onto non-expert, in-house staff, or NOT bothering with backups at all. 

     This is why good internal IT Managed Services or good hired external IT Managed Services are so critical for today’s business. People who are correctly trained and are authorized representatives for a well-regarded backup infrastructure should be handling it, not just any local IT geek. To do otherwise is to play Russian roulette with your vital business data. Cima International, mentioned above has never been able to recover any of their encrypted data. Truly, years of work were lost. Not having an expert backup of your vital business data is almost as bad as covering your computers and servers with gasoline and throwing lighted matches at it every night.


     The other issue is that “It Is Always Something”. Having good quality Managed Services will help you stay ahead of the game, just like a good CPA will help you stay ahead of the tax law. This will let you focus on what your business is actually selling and developing rather than every threat that’s out there. A good Managed Services provider will be aware of the upcoming threats and will pro-actively seek to protect your computers and database. Someday soon hopefully, the LAW will catch up with the CryptoLocker criminals, but by then there will probably be another threat. How about your business? The CryptoLocker wave is slowly passing, but are you ready for when it hits your business? Are you ready for the next threat after CryptoLocker? As long as there are cyber criminals, it will always be something!

     Managed Services covers so many threats to your servers, computers and vital business data. It is always preferable to pro-actively face these threats head on, before they become an entrenched problem. It is vastly more expensive to “restore and repair” after the damage is done. Expert created backups and pro-active services are essential in this climate of constant threat which is just going to continue to get worse. There will always be someone out there trying to find a way to extort money via technology. Good, legitimate Managed Services can pro-actively prevent most of these threats and it is much less expensive than paying the cyber criminals.



Peter Heinicke

Peter Heinicke

Chicago area ERP consultant with over 40 years of experience in Sage 300, Sage Pro, Quickbooks ERP and other systems

Related posts

Desktop or Tablet PC, Which one is best for St. Charles?

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year or so, you're well aware of the tablet...

Continue reading

IT Wars: Episode 1 - Removing unwanted Anti-Virus software

Continue reading

Ten reasons Windows 10 really rocks!

Windows, rocks

I am truly impressed:

The past few releases of Windows have been a game of give...

Continue reading