Why do so many people hate you? You're a good person. You recycle. You pay your taxes. You bite your tongue even when your sister-in-law is being her typically obnoxious self. You hold the door for the person behind you even though the guy in front of you let it slam in your face. You try not to think about all the ways that guy in front of you should die. You mostly succeed at this.

Yet still, people hate you. These are not people you know. These are people online. Criminals. Hackers. Jerks. They don't know you but they hate you.  Why else would they be attacking you and your business?

Since 2003, Cyber security firm Acronis has been battling those people who hate and attack you.  The firm, which has grown to more than 1,000 employees in 18 countries during that time has developed backup, anti-ransomware and other security solutions that have helped to protect their clients - which comprise about five million consumers and 500,000 businesses - from the many people who attack them too.

But unfortunately, there's no shortage of haters and attackers, and 2019 will be no different.  So who will be hating and attacking you the most?  

"It'll be a three-headed hydra of cyber threats," James Slaby, Acronis' director of cyber protection told me via email. "Criminal gangs (including their legion of low-skilled front men equipped with packaged, easy-to-use malware-as-a-service), state actors (like North Korea) attacking for geopolitical and/or economic gain, and internal inertia, a failure to act decisively in a confusing threat environment hobbled by the struggle to find skilled cybersecurity staffers."

Slaby says to expect a rise in ransomware, which is when a network is infected by malware that encrypts files that can only be re-opened with a special "key" usually purchased with some form of crypto-currency like bitcoin. He also says there will be a rise in crypto-jacking, which is defined as the secret use of your computing device by a different group of attackers that then mine that very same crypto-currency that you're using to pay off the ransomware attackers. May they all burn in hell for being so clever.

It gets worse: our security software probably sucks too. "Companies that rely on old signature-based anti-malware solutions (like traditional anti-virus) will never keep up with these adversaries' constant churning out of new variants that are so new their signatures haven't been discovered yet," Slaby warns.

To me, the answer is simple.  Hire Elliott Alderson. Unfortunately, it seems that Elliott has been secretly impersonating Freddie Mercury in a movie that no one saw. So he's out.

So what's the next best answer to counteract those haters and attackers? Slaby recommends using security software powered by machine learning technology which is able to evolve its defenses over time and keep pace with the fast-evolving malware families (psst - if you haven't figured it out by now that's exactly what Acronis does but let's not fault Slaby for this because he loves his job and took the time to respond to my stupid questions so his company deserves the shout-out).

The good news is that many cloud based applications, particularly those provided by larger, well-funded organizations, are deploying this kind of machine-learning technology to protect their clients' data. "Cloud providers can build defenses with economies of scale, and attract better security talent with the promise of a long career path, than many smaller businesses can," Slaby says.

But it's not a 100 percent solution because - admit it - you've still got that network and PCs and you're still using that database from 2001 and your people are saving stuff all over the place.

To counter that, many experts recommend having redundant backup systems and no not those reel-to-reel tape players from the '80's. By deploying a reliable online backup software, data can be stored in multiple locations and with enough frequency so that if an attack does occur a company can wipe its network clean and restore from the last good backup. 

Yes, you'll lose some data but hopefully not a lot. And that approach is much better than the alternative of paying ransom to some guy - and his friends and family in Eastern Europe because of course they all know each other - who will likely be encouraged to attack you again because it's just tough nowadays to find a hacker you can trust nowadays right?

I know, it's kind of depressing and I wouldn't blame you for thinking it's all pointless because, for God's sake, some of our largest corporations and government systems are getting hacked.  So what chance does a small business have? Well believe it or not, we might be in a better position than some of the bigger guys.

According to Slaby, small businesses are less inviting, less lucrative and less headline-worthy so we're less exposed to an attack. So I guess being small isn't all that bad. Please explain that to my wife.

But no, that still doesn't let us off the hook. People will still hate and attack you. More and more small businesses are attacked each year and because we lack the resources to adequately protect our systems many of us wind up paying for it. I guess that's why ransomware has become a billion-dollar industry made up of haters and hackers. We should all be investing in online backup systems and machine-learning based security software solutions.  

But just know: people will still hate and attack, despite the fact that you recycle. 

Published on: Dec 19, 2018