Ransomware, What You Need to Know!

At Strategic Systems – A Division of CEI, we understand how devastating Ransomware can be to businesses, and want to prepare our clients and potential clients to best resist the dangers of modern ransomware. With that goal in mind, we wrote up this blog post to both explain some basic ransomware information. We will also be hosting an event called “Perfecting a Defensive Strategy that Wins Against Malware” in November. If you would like to learn even more about Ransomware, remember to sign up!


Ransomware is a type of malware that locks a user’s data behind a paywall and threatens to either delete it or publish it unless a certain fee is paid, usually in bitcoins. What the software itself does is go into your storage and encrypt the files there, usually using a form of public key cryptography. This means that while very basic attacks can often be thwarted by software freely available on the internet, the more advanced ones are nearly impossible for someone without very specialized software and expertise to reverse.


The first ransomware virus came in 1989 and was called the AIDS Trojan. While early examples of malware tended to have exploitable weaknesses such as keeping the crypto key in the virus itself, later ransomware viruses created as proof-of-concept used RSA Encryption and other algorithms to provide multi-layered encryption.

Ransomware viruses became prominent in the mid-2000s with the advent of viruses such as Cryzip and Gpcode. However, ransomware truly rose to prominence with CryptoLocker in 2013. CryptoLocker demonstrated what could be done when a virus combined the increasingly potent encryption capabilities of 2048 bit RSA with the prevalence of BitCoin. Authorities estimate that CryptoLocker extorted at least 27 million US dollars before it got shut down.

The most recent example of ransomware is the WannaCry attack from May 2017. It spread through 150 countries using an exploit discovered by the NSA. While the damage is still being assessed, it is safe to say that malware is around to stay, and will be an increasingly common feature of network security arrangements both in Raleigh and around the world.


Because it makes money. Although the percentage of people who actually pay the ransom money hovers around 1-3%, this is usually made up for by volume. If 2% of 100,000 people pay $500, that’s still 1 million dollars. For that reason, it is usually in the interests of the hackers to actually turn over the data once the victim has paid. As businesses increasingly move online, and as having an online presence becomes increasingly non-negotiable, ransomware attacks will only increase.

What Can You Do

At Strategic Systems – A Division of CEI, we understand how vital it is that your business and your data be protected from those who would seek to do them harm. Unfortunately, in today’s ever-changing Raleigh network security environment the threats are so multi-faceted that most business owners can’t handle them themselves. That is where Strategic Systems – A Division of CEI comes in. Our focus on protecting you from malware means that you can focus on your business.

In order to help train our partners in how they can best fight malware, we will be hosting an event called “Perfecting a Defensive Strategy that Wins Against Malware”. As a company that prides itself in our involvement with the community, we feel like our football theme will help people to better understand the threats that face their data every day. As an explanation, our WatchGuard products are the offensive line protecting your business from the blitz of malware so you can put points on the board. If you would like to learn more about malware or about our anti-malware event, you can call us at 919-781-8885 or fill out the form below!