Imagine it’s payday, and all of your payroll files have been taken hostage, or orders are ready to ship, but you discover the address information is inaccessible. Ransomware can quickly turn a normal day at the office into a nightmare.

You may have heard of the recent ransomware scandal in California where a hospital turned over $17,000 in bitcoin in exchange for gaining access to its own files. As its name suggests, ransomware is malware that is used to hold files ‘hostage’ unless a ransom is paid by the file’s owner. Unfortunately, these stories are becoming more familiar by the day and are not isolated to the West Coast or large companies.

Max Riseman, Account Manager at Systems Engineering, an IT company based in Portland, says it is dangerous to underestimate the reach of ransomware hackers.

“I’ve met business owners in Maine who think they don’t have to worry about cyber attacks since our state has such a low population and relative obscurity. They think hackers must focus on bigger areas, and larger companies. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Hackers don’t care where you are located. They use automated tools to scour the entire Internet looking for vulnerable companies, and use the advertising on many popular Internet websites to deploy their malicious software into your network. Anyone and everyone is a possible target,” Riseman said.

You may think that paying the ransom is the best solution. However, in some cases hackers create scenarios that are impossible for their victims to meet, allowing them to justify raising the ransom amount. For instance, hackers have been known to demand a ransom be paid in bitcoin within seven days, knowing that it takes seven to ten days for your bank to open a bitcoin account, thereby guaranteeing a late payment.

There are, however, important steps you can take to minimize the impact of an attack. Riseman recommends backing up your data to a secure server not connected to your network and limiting file access to just the employees who need the information. However, hackers are constantly improving their skills, so there is no way to be 100% protected against an attack. That is why a solid cyber insurance policy that covers extortion, confidentiality breaches, and intellectual property infringement is the most important defense you can have.

Let’s discuss your cyber risk. Give us a call today.


At United Insurance, we are life-long learners.  We are committed to educating ourselves and our clients about the latest industry standards, coverage options, and recent changes in the laws. We do this because we don’t just sell insurance; we protect what you value most so we work hard to make sure we provide the right solutions for your unique needs.  Follow the latest news and learn more with us.