Cybersecurity Awareness Month: The Costly Consequences of Ransomware - A Cautionary Tale

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Senior Manager, Freed Maxick Risk Advisory Services


How Robert and Vincent's Video Production Empire Fell Victim to Cybercrime

In the fast-paced world of video production, Robert and Vincent had built a thriving empire over the course of 25 years. Their successful company had delivered content to a wide range of platforms, from YouTube to Netflix. While Vincent's creative talents fueled their productions, Robert managed the business side of the operation. Little did they know that their world was about to be turned upside down, all thanks to a cunning cybercriminal.

The Deceptive Phishing Email

It all began with an innocent-looking email. Vincent had sent Robert a PDF to review for potential business partners. Robert, always eager to support his partner, promptly opened the attachment. However, to his surprise, nothing happened. Perplexed but not overly concerned, he decided to discuss the content in person with Vincent during their daily meeting.

Fast forward five hours, and Robert was ready to review the mysterious PDF. But Vincent seemed utterly baffled, claiming he had no knowledge of the email or the attachment. Robert, determined to prove Vincent wrong, retrieved the email, only to discover a chilling revelation—the email address, supposedly from Vincent, was a spoofed one, with the name misspelled as "vicnent."

A Ransomware Nightmare

Panic set in as Robert realized they had fallen victim to a cyberattack. Fear gripped him as he hurriedly accessed the network file share where their precious video footage and finalized projects were stored. He clicked on a recent high-budget video project they had completed just a day earlier, intended for delivery to a client for final approval. And then, the nightmare unfolded before his eyes.

A prompt appeared on the screen, delivering a stark message: "Your network has been compromised with ransomware. All of your files have been encrypted. In order to access these files, add $10,000 in Cryptocurrency to the wallet in the link below. If you do, we will provide you the password to unencrypt these files. If you do not, they will stay encrypted forever."

The Costly Decision

With their client's deadline looming and their reputation on the line, Robert and Vincent felt cornered. They saw no other option but to pay the $10,000 ransom, as the instructions demanded. They diligently loaded up the funds into the crypto wallet and waited anxiously for the promised password that would unlock their invaluable video files.

Four agonizing days passed, but the password never arrived. Robert and Vincent were forced to come clean to their client and painstakingly reproduce the entire video, incurring massive costs and tarnishing their once-impeccable reputation in the industry.

Lessons Learned: How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

The tale of Robert and Vincent serves as a stark reminder that cyberattacks, including ransomware, can happen to anyone, regardless of the industry or organization's size. As we observe Cybersecurity Month, here are some critical lessons to take away:

Ransomware Prevention Tip 1. Phishing Awareness is Key

Train personnel to recognize phishing attacks, like the one that deceived Robert. Phishing remains one of the most successful methods for attackers to gain initial entry into your network. Encourage individuals to verify the authenticity of email senders and to be vigilant against suspicious attachments.

Ransomware Prevention Tip 2. Regular Backups Save the Day

Back up your files to a location outside of your network. Had Robert maintained reliable backups, the damage could have been significantly mitigated. Backups, whether daily or monthly, provide a safety net in the event of a ransomware attack.

Ransomware Prevention Tip 3. The Perils of Paying Ransoms

Think twice before paying ransomware ransoms. In some cases, the payment is made, the encryption key is provided, but the network remains compromised. In other instances, cybercriminals may demand more payments before vanishing, leaving victims in an even more precarious position.

Robert and Vincent's unfortunate experience underscores the importance of cybersecurity awareness and preparedness. As you fortify your organization's defenses against the looming threat of cybercrime, remember that vigilance and proactive measures can be the difference between a thriving business and a costly disaster. Stay safe, stay secure, and protect what matters most.

Take Control of Your Cybersecurity Today!

Robert and Vincent's harrowing experience serves as a stark reminder that cybersecurity threats are real and can have devastating consequences. If their story has left you feeling concerned or vulnerable, don't despair. Freed Maxick is here to help you strengthen your digital defenses and protect what matters most.

Our team of cybersecurity experts are ready to assist you in safeguarding your business, your data, and your reputation. With years of experience and a commitment to staying ahead of emerging threats, we offer tailored solutions to ensure your cybersecurity posture is robust and resilient.

Don't wait until it's too late. Reach out to Justin Bonk at, and let us guide you on the path to enhanced cybersecurity. Your peace of mind is our priority, and together, we can build a safer digital future.

Remember, when it comes to cybersecurity – including ransomware prevention, proactive measures are your best defense. Take the first step today and secure your tomorrow with Freed Maxick.


The scenarios depicted in this blog post are purely fictional and are intended solely for illustrative purposes. Any resemblance to real events or individuals is coincidental. While these stories are not based on actual incidents, they are designed to underscore the potential cybersecurity risks that individuals and organizations may face. It is essential to treat cybersecurity seriously and implement appropriate safeguards. For personalized cybersecurity guidance and solutions, please seek advice from qualified professionals.

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