The crudely written ransom notes in movies 20-30 years ago may have been replaced by more modern, digital missives – like a texted photo a la Liam Neeson’s “Taken” – but the message remains the same: Pay up or else.  

That is the quandary business owners, municipal governments, school administrators and even librarians are now facing on an almost daily basis as a growing number of employees come to work only to find when they turn on their PCs that they’re staring at a computer screen with a plaintext message from an attacker demanding a bitcoin ransom in exchange for the keys needed to decrypt data being held hostage.

According to the FBI’s 2018 Internet Crime Report, 1,493 ransomware cases were reported last year, costing each victim on average $3.6 million. The FBI did list a few caveats with that figure, noting it does not include estimates of lost business, time, wages, files, equipment, or any third-party remediation services contracted by a victim. Also, not every victim reports a loss and some underrepresent the cost.

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