Watch out for digital horrors this Halloween

By Rafael Laguna, CEO Open-Xchange

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For a real horror story this Halloween I invite you all to think about the sheer number of organized criminals there are out there, behind the pixels and the code you’re looking at right now. Every year, hundreds of millions of euros in profit are made from malware. Over a hundred, highly organized gangs are currently competing for a share of the ransomware market.

Ransomware works by infecting a single computer within a business; this might be through phishing emails, insecure public wifi etc. It then waits until that computer returns home to the business network, completely unaware that it is playing host to an incredibly malicious virus.

Once connected, this virus spreads throughout the network, permanently infecting every file it can touch (or every file that patient zero, the user, has access to). Within moments the contagion has spread and the entire system is corrupted.

When you think about it, the individual bots in the Mirai botnet, which took down websites such as Brian Krebs’ and DNS provider Dyn’s, are disturbingly analogous to zombies, forced into the bidding of a cyber-criminal necromancer.

It gets really spooky when you consider that every one of us has a webcam or similar device sitting quietly in our home, waiting for the sinister signal to activate and become a part of the biggest criminal botnet in history…

But there are more insidious horrors than ransomware out there, lurking online. Whenever you pick up the phone, send an email, share an attachment or even search online an omniscient force is watching and recording your every move.

This is the 1984-dystopia of the modern age: the webcam you can’t turn off, the all seeing eye of the NSA. The exact budget of this secretive agency is classified but is estimated to run into the tens of billions.

Fortunately, like the plucky protagonists of a thousand horror movies, we have the tools to fight these demons. Encryption hides us from their malignant gaze and open-source technology shines a light on our online services, so we can trust they’re not haunted by any digital ghouls.

Happy Halloween to you all from OX Towers!