New Ransomware Demands Payment in Bitcoin

Beware Thanatos: The Latest Malware Threat for Computers

       With hackers becoming more prevalent every day, it's important to stay vigilant when it comes to your point of sale back office operations. It seems every time we turn around, there's a new dangerous malware threatening the cyber-community. The latest cyber-scam comes in the form of a ransomware called Thanatos. This malicious software is the first ransomware scam to accept payment in the form of crytocurrency. Thanatos has been infecting computers all across America and demanding that they pay a ransom in the form of Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum. 

        The popularity and use of Cryptocurrency has been on a meteoric rise ever since the explosion of decentralized blockchain technology and Bitcoin. And while the majority of consumers are using Bitcoin legally and ethically, it is also becoming a preferred payment method for online extortionists everywhere. According to a report by CNN, 34 ransomware schemes accumulated over $25 million over a two year period, with most cyber criminals using the Bitcoin BTC-e to exchange their illegally obtained digital funds. 

    Thanatos is even more potent than the average ransomware because it infects a computer and creates an encrypted file,but does not provide an access point to retrieve your data-even if the ransom is paid. Essentially, this ransomware takes over your computer, locks away all your important data then throws away the key! 

        After a computer is infected with Thanatos malware, all the encrypted filename extensions are changed to .THANATOS and a ransom note file named README.txt pops up demanding $200 whenever the user tries to log in. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to unlock a computer once it has been infected with this ransomware. Experts say you can attempt to find the encryption key by using brute force. They recommend that if your computer is infected with Thanatos ransomware, you should not pay the ransom but instead go directly to a cyber security firm for assistance. 

        Restaurants who electronically process thousands of dollars worth of credit card transactions a day using a point of sale are prime targets for malware like Thanatos. Here are some important steps you can take as a business owner to protect your point of sale and customer information from malware threats:  

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                                - Use different, complex passwords for multiple applications    
                                    When you think of someone hacking your computer, rarely is it an actual person sitting on the other end typing passwords manually. Sophisticated and savvy cyber criminals have developed malicious spyware and algorithms that scan thousands of websites, pages, passwords and users a day to find any loopholes or weakness in security. Once one of your passwords has been compromised, hackers can then use this password across multiple applications to see if it unlocks any important accounts. Which is why it is crucial that choose a different password for every program and make sure it does not contain any familiar dictionary words, phrases or personal information that can be easily guessed. Also, consider changing your passwords on a regular basis for additional security.

                                - Invest in managed network security for your point of sale  
                                  Since restaurants are handling customer credit card information and online transactions on a daily basis, it's essential that your point of sale and server are protected by a commercial grade firewall. Having reliable network security can not only protect your customer information and business data, but it can also help enhance your guest experience and provide faster, better service. The network security experts at Netsurion offer comprehensive PCI compliance assistance tools, managed firewall and network security, internet white listing, financial breach assistance, monitored WiFi and 4G data backup, so you can run your restaurant with ease, security and peace of mind.

                                - Always backup your data    
                                    Even if you've got the latest and greatest computer hardware and software, computers are never 100% fail proof. From harmful computer viruses to a random hard drive crash, storing your information and computer data locally without backup is always a big risk! Once a computer's harddrive is compromised, it is extremely difficult to retrieve any stored historical data from it. So restaurants and businesses with years worth of historical transactions and data on their servers should consider backing up their data with an external hard drive, cloud drive or secondary computer. That way, if your point of sale or back office computer are ever compromised, you don't have to worry about losing any important data because it's backed up in a different location.

                                 - Keep your OS updated   
                                    An out-of-date operating system can be a prime target for cyber criminals. Not only does an obsolete operating system fail to meet PCI compliance standards, but it also drastically increases the potential of a security breach in your network. Regular operating system maintenance typically includes updates to your OS, software and applications as well as security updates and patches to help keep your computer protected. Without these regular updates, your software is left open to new potential security threats and breaches that can easily maneuver around your operating system's outdated defenses. In order to help our customers maintain a PCI complaint and secure point of sale, POS Solutions offers flexible and affordable software subscriptions that include commercial grade firewall, weekly server reboots and regular software updates to ensure that your system is always up-to-date.

                                - Only use your back office server for point of sale   
                                    It might be tempting to check hop on Facebook or check your email on your restaurant's back office server, but this can be a major security liability in your point of sale! In order to minimize the risk of a potential data breach, it's crucial that you only use your restaurant or bar's back office computer for business related tasks, i.e. pulling sales reports, making system changes or checking labor or time cards. Any other outside applications, such as Facebook, Gmail, Pandora, etc., create potential gateways where hackers can find their way into your system. If you want to stream music at your restaurant during business hours or use social media to promote your business, keep a personal PC or laptop at your restaurant so you can access the internet without compromising the security of your point of sale.