Blake Dowling: The scourge of ransomware


This year has been exceptionally brutal on the cybersecurity front, and ransomware in particular.

You know it is terrible when Webster tosses the name in the book.

According to the 2017 Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “ransomware is malware requiring the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files.

Also added were other random words that have crept into our society. “Pregame” is another example: “To begin drinking alcohol before an event or activity (such as a party or a night out).”

“Alt-right” is in, as is “bunny” — meaning “an easy shot in basketball.”

“Tommy Maitland” discussing with Will Arnett how bad the Florida-Florida State game will be.

I wonder how big the new-word committee is? It could be top of the list of worst jobs ever (right up there with the one IT guy in North Korea).

How are those words chosen? Bring in Tommy Maitland from the all-new Gong Show? (Spoiler alert, Tommy Maitland is really Mike Myers. Shocking.)

Also shocking is that he is hilarious in this role. Tune in.

Kim showing his team the line on the UF-FSU game.

So CryptoLocker, WannaCry (thanks, N. Korea), NotPetya, and this month BadRabbit have all burst on the scene. Experts say it will get worse before it gets better.

Our company now offers intrusion testing, customized training as the standard enterprise-level security bundles are not enough. With clients with no international ties, we block all IP addresses outside the U.S., as so many threats originate offshore.

A few years ago, I was chatting with a professor in Tel Aviv, who told me that spam was invented in Israel. So, where do you think the best spam filter is from? He was right then, but these days products from afar (like Kaspersky Anti-Virus software) have been exposed themselves.

Me and the squad, floating on the Dead Sea in Israel, far away from college football.

I am not suggesting an America-first approach to cybersecurity, but maybe a NATO-first.

Most ransomware encrypts files and to get the files back, you are supposed to pay a ransom. We always recommend not paying, and go to a backup — which you should always have — to restore the affected data.

Some new attacks will see ransomware as a diversion.

Files will get infected, and while your IT staff is struggling to deal with that, a Trojan dives in — stealing credit card numbers or something else stored locally.

Other ransomware blackmails you: pay us, or we send your photos to your contact list. Threats get more devious and, of course, good ol’ spam with infected links will still come through. That is if you do not have proper security in place, and people yet click these things.

The U.S. is still better off than most of the world, as a whole, we have more legit deployments of software, which means security updates are patched and current (if managed correctly). Plus, most professionals recognize that there is an issue and are taking action. But there are still those out there on their XP machines with no backup clicking up a storm. Don’t be that person.

#Don’tBeThatPerson that ignores security and clicks on everything, because they will eventually think up a name for the Merriam-Webster 2018 Dictionary for you and it won’t be flattering.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at [email protected].

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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