Ransomware: Is My Archery Shop’s Data Safe?

Businesses thrive on technology. What are viruses/ransomware, and wow can we protect ourselves from them?
Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

Author: Cassie Scott

What would you do if your computer got infected by a virus or attacked by a hacker? Thousands of small-business owners lose vital information each year to computer viruses and hackers.

You might have a love-hate relationship with technology, but it’s a vital part of generating money and attracting and retaining customers. Archery retailers must educate themselves on these threats to stay up-to-date in business practices and protect against cyber attacks.

Hackers and viruses have been around almost as long as the computers they attack, and recent threats often use ransomware. Most versions of this software virus encrypt or lock a computer’s files, leaving victims unable to open them until they pay a ransom. When the perpetrators receive the money, they promise to unlock the files so the victim can go about their business.

We spoke with Scott Gieseke, ATA’s information systems and technology manager, to discuss ransomware and what it means for ATA members. Gieseke said ransomware viruses typically have three implications:

Many archery retailers use computers to track inventory and place orders, making techonology a vital part of daily shop operations. Retailers must educate themselves on threats and stay up-to-date in business practices to protect their information against cyber attacks. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.

1. Victims lose access to their information.

Those materials include photos, documents, spreadsheets and more. In some cases, the virus also encrypts system files, meaning the computer itself might not operate correctly.

2. Ransom payment doesn’t ensure proper file recovery.

Once the perpetrators receive the money, there’s no guarantee they’ll give users the decryption key to recover their files. After all, anyone evil enough to hack a computer, lock files and demand money likely feels little obligation to honor any deal they offer.

3. Once a system is compromised, it’s difficult to regain its integrity. That means the system could be at risk of more attacks.

A virus usually exploits weaknesses in computers or networks. Once a computer is compromised, chances are good it can be attacked again unless it’s properly repaired and safeguarded. Even professionals can struggle reversing the damage and securing the system’s integrity.

No one wants to be victimized by a computer attack, especially small-business owners who rely on computer software to monitor and track finances, inventory and transactions. Learn how to protect yourself, your computer and your business assets from malware before it’s too late.

Whether you’re at work or home, follow these three rules from Gieseke to protect your computer:

Online systems for scheduling range time provide a valuable service to archery customers. Protect your customers and your business' digital assets by safeguarding your systems against computer viruses. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.

1. Back up your files.

This might seem like a tedious task, but it’s worthwhile if something happens to your computer, whether it’s a virus, a hacker attack or computer crash. Consider using a reputable online backup service, or buy automatic backup software and an external hard drive with ample space to back up your files.

2. Add layers of protection.

Even with many advances in technology, no single solution eliminates all computer threats, and hackers continually seek new ways to penetrate your security walls. Consider installing a local firewall, antivirus software, endpoint protection and anti-malware software to keep your files safe and secure.

3. Ensure your network is protected.

If you’re connected to the internet, you’re part of a network. These systems of computers and other electronic devices are joined together so people can exchange information and share resources. Firewalls are vital to protecting networks. Firewalls consist of hardware (physical devices) and software. Install a firewall and keep its virus-protection files updated.

Don’t wait. Two phrases ring trite but true: “The sooner the better” and “Better safe than sorry.” Be proactive and protect yourself against computer threats.

To learn more about how the ATA helps archery retailers protect their data – and boost profitability in their archery shop – check out ATA ePRO, an exclusive software program designed to help retailers improve customer service, track work orders, integrate all store operations, and make more money from their ranges. Best of all, ATA ePRO ensures your data is safe, secure and confidential.

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