It seemed like just another ordinary day for a small online retailer in the Midwest. Little did they know that the simple click of an e-mail link was about to threaten the entire business. One of the company’s employees received an e-mail with a link to a seemingly benign catalog. One click and the company’s system was infected with Crytowall malware that affected accounting software, customer account files, including credit card numbers, social security numbers, customer names and addresses among other information.
The accounting software and customer files did not live on the employee’s computer; it lived on the company’s network drive, so the malware was able to encrypt 15,000 accounting and customer files. A ransom demand soon followed, demanding $50,000 in exchange for a decryption key. The company’s backup systems had not been working for months, and with the virus proving impossible to remove without the loss of crucial company data, the company had no choice but to pay up.
But the decryption key didn’t work. Business came to a standstill. The owner could not afford to pay to rebuild the network systems. Six months later the company closed its doors, strangled by lack of sales and cashflow.