Its a real thing. It can happen to you.
The scary part? Even if you pay, you may not get back your data.
From an article at https://blog.barkly.com/dla-piper-petya-ransomware-attack:
"On the morning of Tuesday, June 27th, employees coming in to work at the DC offices of DLA Piper, one of the world's largest law firms, were greeted with something unusual. A whiteboard had been rolled out into the middle of the building lobby with "Attention: DLA Employees" written across it in large, red letters.
"All network services are down, DO NOT turn on your computers!" the message continued. "Please remove all laptops from docking stations & keep turned off. No exceptions."
As the DC office employees slowly filed past the whiteboard wondering what was going on, text message notifications were urgently being sent out alerting the rest of the firm's employees not to start their computers or connect to the DLA network, either.
The phone systems were down. So was email and the firm's web portal. Without access to communications or documents, operations ground to a halt.
Initial details were scarce, but what eventually became clear was, like thousands of other organizations around the globe, the firm had been infected by Petya malware. As a result, the entire firm — roughly 3,600 lawyers plus support staff scattered across 40 countries — was on digital lockdown.
What no one at DLA Piper knew or anticipated on that chaotic first day of the outbreak was that the lockdown wouldn't be fully re mediated for weeks to come.
The ransom was $300.
So why didn't the firm simply pay the ransom? Any theoretical principles against funding cybercriminals aside, the simple fact is they couldn't have paid to get their files back even if they'd wanted to. As it turned out, the "ransomware" involved in the attack wasn't actually designed to make file recovery possible at all. It was designed for destruction, not extortion."
Thankfully there are steps you can take to prevent being ransomwared.
The basic steps are as follows:
1. Make sure all software (OS, drivers, browsers, firmware) are updated and stay that way.
2. Get a good Malware protection software (we recommend Malwarebytes)
3. Establish a scheduled backup of your computers to a cloud or network storage device on a regular basis.
Now for the hard part.
Email is the most common way to get hacked or ransomware. The only way to stop this is to train yourself and your employees to defend against it.
Don't download or open unknown files.
Don't visit unknown links.
These viruses can also come from emails you know and trust, so be wary of any email that seems fishy or files that you haven't asked for.
Use common sense. If an email seems out of place, send back an email to the original sender to make sure they had sent the file before downloading or opening it. Malwarebytes can also scan files for vulnerabilities before they are opened. But this will not always make you safe. Certain viruses can be activated upon download, or by simply loading a web page.
If you do get hacked, use your backups to get around it. Wipe your machine clean and revert back to your last backup before the hack. (you can see why this is an important step)
Data is one of the most valuable assets to your company. Make sure you take the time to protect it, and keep your clients privacy a priority.