The Netflix â€˜80s homage series Stranger Things comes complete with teen angst, secretive scientists, frightening monsters, mullets, and enough Eggos to fill a food truck freezer. The showâ€™s addicting plot lines have you clutching your heartstrings one second and then jumping out of your seat the next. You might be surprised to learn that some of these plot points can also teach businesses a few things about how to handle ransomware.
There . . . we got that out of the way.
Chapter 1: Donâ€™t Open the Gate!
On Stranger Things, the nefarious scientists over at Hawkins Laboratories manipulate an innocent girl with psychic abilities into opening the gate to another dimension, the Upside Down. Out of the Upside Down cometh a terrifying creature called the Demogorgon, and later a pumpkin-killing plague followed by sci-fi hellhounds called Demodogs.
Ransomware is the Upside Down of computer viruses. Think of hackers as the IRL version of Hawkins Labs. They want more than anything for you to open that door and theyâ€™re going to do whatever it takes to manipulate you into welcoming the virus into your system. Hackers will use emails with subject lines like, â€œYouâ€™ve inherited $19,999â€, and will trick you with infected attachments that promise to share the secrets to eternal happiness.
With businesses being attacked by ransomware up to â€œonce every 40 secondsâ€, workplace education about ransomware is paramount. It sounds like a no-brainer, but itâ€™s super important to let employees know not to open strange emails. Business Insider notes that â€œthe the most common way people get infected with malware is via opening an email attachment, which then uploads the malware to the computer.â€
The best way to not welcome evil creatures from another dimension into your hometown is to just straight up not open up a gate to another dimension. The best way to not catch a ransomware virus is to straight up not open a ransomware virus.
Chapter 2: Beware of Data-napping
Now, letâ€™s recap one of the main ongoing plots on Stranger Things. In both seasons, pre-teen Will Byers keeps getting the short end of the stick in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indianaâ€™s battleground against the interdimensional creatures of the â€œUpside Downâ€.
In Season One, the Demogorgon kidnaps Will and the poor kid spends most of the season off-screen with an infectious slug down his throat. Sound familiar? Thatâ€™s because Willâ€™s plot in the first season is pretty much what happens with ransomware.
Once the gate is open, ransomware will infect your system, take your data and hold your valuable information hostage. So your data protection job now includes ensuring the defensive moves and recovery plan that poor Will just didnâ€™t seem to have ready to go as an unsuspecting early victim in Hawkins.
Chapter 3: Consider the Price
In season 2 of Stranger Things, young Willâ€™s tribulations continue. Even after being rescued from the Upside Down and brought home, he spends the season being slowly infected by the Mind Flayer and subsequently spying on his friends and family, and even getting some of them killed.
This is a direct parallel to what happens if a user decides not to follow security protocols at work after the company shores up the network holes after a ransomware attack.
On the one hand, your actions can allow Â the hackers tamper with everyoneâ€™s valuable information. On the other, your inaction can lead to infiltration that no one knows about until they have to rescue the information, costing valuable resources and even more risk to the companyâ€™s reputation. Itâ€™s a lose-lose situation to ignore passive or active guidelines for preventing ransomware.
Chapter 4: Trust the Professionals
On Stranger Things, Chief Hopper is a no-nonsense police with a showstopping haymaker and the authority to get to the bottom of the mysteries that surround Hawkins. In your office, itâ€™s also important to seriously examine the risks and plan better security measures to proactively protect your computers from ransomware.
Your IT solution will require a proven security solution, including properly backing up your system. Beyond education and enforcing not opening the gate, a comprehensive cybersecurity solution is the best way to be ready to combat ransomware.
If you havenâ€™t seen Stranger Things, we hope even those completely unfamiliar with the Demogorgon still enjoyed the article. Either way, give us a call or shoot us an email and weâ€™ll chat with you about the ways we can fortify your network against ransomware and other attacks.