Your free web hosting email could cost you $25,000. Your server backup on a USB hard drive could cost you $50,000. Cheap IT solutions are sometimes used by small business owners, and more often, they are resulting in ransomware infections, right here in Toronto. The ransoms were $4,000-5,000 a few years ago. This year we saw $10,000 in the beginning of the year and $25,000 and $50,000 this summer. As more small business owners get infected and pay the ransom, cyber criminals are emboldened to ask for higher and higher ransoms.
Let’s take a look at how free web email accounts can end up costing you far more than you bargained for, and what a better alternative would be.
How Free Web Hosted Email Can Cost You Big With A Ransomware Infection
When you sign up for web hosting, you usually get free email with it. You enter the POP3 mail credentials in your Outlook or other mail app, and your free emails are delivered to your computer email client. All seems to work well enough. Then, one day, you get a dreaded ransomware virus on your screen.
Your first thought is to recover your email from “the cloud” or backup. When you talk to your IT provider, they give you more bad news. Your free web hosting email doesn’t have a back up. The only copy of all your business emails were in your email client, which is no encrypted by ransomware. Unless you pay the ransom, your email is gone forever.
Even if you pay the ransom, statistics show that cyber criminals don’t return files or decryption keys in approximately 13% of cases.
What is a better alternative to free web hosting email? Well, either G Suite or Microsoft 365 business email solutions would have been helpful. For the low cost of anywhere between $6-$16 per month, you have email, better spam filtering, email backup, and a suite of always up to date tools such as Microsoft Word & Excel or Google Docs & Sheets.
With these tools, your emails exist both on your local email client and in the cloud. In the event of ransomware, you do not have to pay the ransom. You can wipe and reload your computer to remove all trace of any virus, and re-download all email to your local mail client from the cloud. Crisis averted.
Some business owners balk at paying a subscription for email. Whether you host a mail server yourself, or pay a highly secured provider like Microsoft to host it for you, there is a cost in time, effort, money or all three. Free web hosting falls under the category of you get what you pay for. We never recommend it.
Free antivirus is another problem. A good antivirus software must have an algorithm which is updated daily by a team of high level computer scientists who track new threats around the globe, and write code to identify the signatures of malicious threats like ransomware, and block those signatures before they get to your inbox. Free antivirus is lacking. Business owners today should look for business grade antivirus software and also invest in additional layers of IT security. Antivirus alone is not enough – not even good antivirus.
Times have changed. It has becoming too high a risk to use some free tools for your business, including free email and free antivirus. If you are not ready to hand over your IT security and management to a Managed IT Services provider, who has the necessary skills and tools to protect your business from ransomware, please do consider switching to better antivirus and a professional email platform.
Our Small Business IT Experts here at TUCU have been serving the Toronto business community since 2003. We can help you better protect your business by moving your emails to G Suite or Microsoft 365. If you wish, we can offer you a basic computer monitoring and antivirus plan, or flat fee monthly IT management services to take care of your servers, data and business continuity, so that you never have to pay a ransom to a cyber criminal to keep your business alive.