Unfortunately, the answer is you won’t know (if you choose to pay the ransom) until the extortionists have cashed your bitcoin wallet and made their getaway. The reality is that this form of extortion is based on the hope that you will get the decryption key and be able to restore your data. 
In the early days of ransomware, the success rate of getting your data back was as high as 90 percent but unfortunately that is no longer true. Current publications put the success rate of getting your data back at between 30 and 60 percent.
But the bottom line is that if you choose to pay the ransom, it will be a gamble with no guarantee that you will get the promised decryption key. So, as you make your decision, as to whether to pay or not, you need to ask the question: “What will I do if I pay the ransom and get nothing in return?” 
Ten startling trends to watch: 
1. The highest ransom the company paid out for its clients in 2018 was over $930,000.
2. Small-to-midsized businesses have the largest risk and often the least protection.
3. Many cities are being targeted. The ransom may only be $10,000 but the damages and recovery costs could be in the millions. Recent several cities have incurred large losses such as Atlanta, Baltimore, New York City, Riveria Beach, and more.
4. Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that ransomware damages would exceed $8 billion in 2018.
5. Just because you pay the ransom doesn’t mean you will get your data back or be safe from more attacks.
6. Industries most vulnerable to attacks include large, multinational businesses; and institutions (schools, cities, etc.), and healthcare.
7. Individuals are also being attacked and fear losing family pictures.
8. Ransomware can be easily procured and there are a many to choose from.
9. Ransomware costs businesses more than $75 billion per year.
10. There is cybersecurity insurance, but many companies don’t have it. FedEx didn’t have cybersecurity insurance in 2017 and attributed a $300 million loss in its Q1 2017 earnings report to the NotPetya ransomware attack.
 Article submitted by Mike Green, Executech. Executech is a member of the South Coast Development Council, Inc. The purpose of this article is to help raise awareness of potential losses due to ransomware attacks. Thanks Mike!
 2017-2019 Ransomware statistics and facts (https://www.comparitech.com/antivirus/ransomware-statistics/)
Mike Green, Executech
Hints of an attack can be subtle, but if you are paying attention and watchful, you may be able to minimize the damage and get help immediately. Depending on the size of your business, damages and recovery costs can zoom into the thousands and more. 
What were the first clues of an attack?
#1 - “I am in the folders I used every day. I can’t find the files I am looking for and there are a bunch of files with names and extensions I don’t recognize.” Ransomware will often change filenames and extensions.
#2 - “Our server is running extremely slow today.” Ransomware encryptions steal server resources and reduce performance.
Paying attention to subtle hints may save your business a bundle!
#3 - “We replicate data to another site and the replication has come to a crawl.” Replication only transfers altered files. Since every file is being encrypted, it will greatly increase the time needed to transfer the data.
#4 - “I received an Email today with an attachment that I couldn’t open. I forwarded it on to 3 other employees and they were unable to open the attachment. Could you help us get this attachment open?” In this case, Sophos Intercept X had just been installed on all four computers. The software stopped the ransomware attack, restored the encrypted files, and cleaned up the systems. The attack was successfully rebuffed without any damage.
Responding quickly to these clues can be key in preventing a successful penetration by ransomware and avoiding a costly disaster and recovery process.
Executech is a member of the South Coast Development Council, Inc. The purpose of this article is to help minimize losses due to ransomware attacks. Thanks Mike!
 2017-2019 Ransomware statistics and facts (https://www.comparitech.com/antivirus/ransomware-statistics/)
What is the goal of your business and how can you get there? Going into business is not for the ‘faint of heart.’ It takes a lot of work, worry, and vision to reach your goals.
Why is it that only 8 percent of goals are actually achieved?  Two primary problems are figuring out what those goals are and how to achieve them.
One of the best tools for managing a project or business is setting up SMART goals and objectives. This technique can work for almost any endeavor—big and small.
There are reams of information online about SMART goals and objectives, how they are defined and how to use them. Who has time to read a tome? Let’s cut the process to the bone and get on--your successful business awaits!
Keep the process as simple as possible but add enough detail so others can contribute to your vision and so that you can look at the plan five years from now and still understand what it all means...
SMART is an acronym which has a variety of definitions: 
TIP: SET A CLEAR GOAL IN ONE SENTENCE. My ‘go-to’ goal example is when then President John F. Kennedy set a ‘goal to safely send an American to the moon and back by the end of a decade’. There is no question of specifics (what he wanted to do, where he wanted it done, and when he wanted it done. The Who would of course be NASA.) If the goal was Measurable, and Relevant, or Timeframe. Having it be Attainable was an amazing success! 
Your business goal might not be as lofty but key to your company’s success. Let’s cut the process to a bare bone by creating a goal statement in one sentence:
Format: My 2020 business goal is to [SMART criteria above] by [Timeframe].
Example: My 2020 business goal is to double the amount of counter sales by February 15, 2020.
Does the business goal meet the SMART criteria? It is specific/simple, measurable in terms of sale numbers, achievable in terms of potential, relevant/reasonable for the business, and includes a timeframe.
NASA's human spaceflight efforts were guided by Kennedy's speech and several projects were designed to execute his goals. Kennedy’s goal was finally achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module's ladder and onto the Moon's surface. 
TIP: LEVERAGE OBJECTIVES. Some people treat objectives like additional goals and assignments. In many ways they can start the How discussion by identifying critical benchmarks needed to achieve the goal. For instance, an objective and relevant tasks for the counter sales example could include:
Identify current average counter sale trends over time by store and product (needed August 1)
Task: CFO to provide report template to managers by July 1.
Task: Store managers to compile and provide report by July 10 to regional manager.
Task: Regional managers to report trends, product sales, and opportunities at August 1 meeting
Notice that the tasks include some of the SMART details such as who will do the task, what is expected, and dates not included in the Objective. Note that an overall time frame was included as part of the objective which is useful for meet a project deadline.
TIP: Want to get SMARTER? Figure out when your efforts can/should be Evaluated, Revised , and potentially shelved. Sometimes that is what learning is all about.
Exerpts from John F. Kennedy’s speech notes talking about setting goals for space travel. His statement was very SMART even back in 1961! 
One of the most striking benefits of this exercise is that it will help crystalize what you want to do and how you can get it done. The ability to tell your story in a concise way not only helps to manage the process but can garner support and resources from others.
Planning can help create a road map for getting there, but getting the work done is the only way to achieve success. Keep the process as simple as possible but add enough detail so others can contribute to your vision and so that you can look at the plan five years from now and still understand what it all means...
1 Definition – What are SMART Goals and Objectives? (https://tallyfy.com/smart-goals-objectives/)
2 Smart Goals (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm
3 The Decision to Go to the Moon: President John F. Kennedy's May 25, 1961. (https://history.nasa.gov/moondec.html)
4 The Essential Guide to Writing S.M.A.R.T. Goals (https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/essential-guide-writing-smart-goals
5 Exerpts from John F. Kennedy’s reading text notes (https://history.nasa.gov/Apollomon/apollo5.pdf)
In the late 1970’s, we were excited to develop a crude but clunky email system that pulled down a single file from a mainframe computer every day. A couple of keystrokes would fling the one-pager out to five floors of managers in moments. We had the taste for information at the speed of light for the very first time and we were hooked.
We knew that this technology carried the promise of great change to how we communicate and what might constitute mail. We did not think it carried the risk of crime or as a tool that we love to hate. Who knew?
Email has become a critical tool for speeding up and maintaining communication flow—a task that is critical to most businesses. The technology has dramatically matured into creative messaging, tracking, and calendaring applications that can be used not only on your computer, but even ‘Dick Tracy’-like watches.
They do exist! Officially licensed by Tribune Content Agency (which owns the rights to the comic), the Dick Tracy watch was created by Connecticut-based brothers Nick and Charlie Mathis. You may want one too!
Somewhere along the line, scammers recognized an opportunity to leverage the technology to separate us from our money (I am not referring to sales but then again...). They have gotten really good at it.
The strategies they use often incorporates the art of deception. This deception takes the form of fake everything (like requests, calls for help, gift cards, job notices, and outright demands).
Attacks are “more advanced, more frequent,” said Colby Hall, Business Development Representative, from Mimecast in a recent phone interview with SCDC.
Business Email Compromise scams (or BECs) are a type of ‘phishing’ attack in which criminals target businesses that frequently send international wire transfers. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails that persuade people to reveal personal information. The deception is usually hidden very well and may look totally reputable. 
Awareness is the biggest thing.
“Awareness is the biggest thing.” Mr. Hall continued. ‘You would think that people have seen this kind of thing so many times before, but they go ahead and click on the email and assume it is OK.’
He indicated that attachments, more so than the email message itself, are the typical vehicle for introducing software (or malware) that provides access or attacks other computers. The email or attachment can also send the reader to a link that may not look quite right where an invader jumps on your link potentially exposing all of your company and customer secrets.
According to the recent CyberArk Global Advanced Threat Landscape 2019 Report 60 percent of respondents cited external attacks, such as phishing, as one of their organization’s greatest security risk, followed by ransomware (59 percent) and Shadow IT (45 percent). The scary part? Only half of those organizations surveyed had a security plan in place. 
...human error causes 90 percent...
In a recent Capital One incident, approximately 100 million U.S. customers and 6 million Canadian customers were hacked, and personal information exposed. These incidents happen more often than we want to know. The FBI estimated that there were 22,000 incidents involving American businesses from October 2013 -December 2016. In total those businesses saw losses of nearly $1.6 billion. The really bad news? Those numbers jumped 2370 percent between January 2015 and December 2016.  More recently there was a 65 percent increase in phishing in 2016 alone creating 1,220,523 attacks. 
The really, really bad news? There is no way to protect yourself and your company from an attack 100 percent of the time. Sure, there are software solutions that can help but human error causes 90 percent of cyber breaches . Education and awareness will help. Better practices related to protecting your data offline could help... or rethinking what devices you store your personal information on...
Thank you! Colby Hall, Business Development Representative, from Mimecast for your time and information. Find out more about Mimecast at www.mimecast.com.
1 The Dangers Of Phishing (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/09/14/the-dangers-of-phishing/#516363f15078)
2 Must-Know Phishing Statistics 2018 (https://blog.alertlogic.com/must-know-phishing-statistics-2018/)
3 Phishing Scams Cost American Businesses Half A Billion Dollars A Year (https://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2017/05/05/phishing-scams-cost-american-businesses-half-a-billion-dollars-a-year/#6176fd263fa1)
4 Survey: Only Half of Organizations Believe They Can Stop Cyber Attacks (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190723005131/en/)
5 Mimecast Email Security Brief, 2018.
Does your company use an email marketing service? Why not? It is easy! There are several different service providers, but few that are totally free and considered a best pick by the Business Daily News. Recently Mailchimp was selected as the 2018 Best pick for free email management system and part of the 2019 100 Top Software Products making it a great option for the small business owner on a tight budget.
A mailing list system can do many things beyond just collecting addresses. Mailchimp, for instance, will help track recipient permissions which will reduce the amount of undeliverables or spam blocks. It also provides a host of reports, design templates, prevent duplicates, and some basic text design options.
MailChimp's Forever Free plan allows up to 2,000 subscribers and a 12,000 email send cap per month. The free option provides access to all of MailChimp's design and list-building tools, automation options, and a host of reports. Most systems will also export data in a number of different formats. Anything over that and there is a small fee ranging from $30 to $150 per month.
Building a list – Many systems try to help reduce SPAM email by urging list builders to get permission for using an email address. Sometimes it is implied permission through the collection of business cards and sign-up sheets. Using a sign up list at an event is a great way to get connected with a lot of people fast especially if you indicate on the sign-up that the addresses will never be sold or shared. Even then SPAM, unwanted emails, still continue.
Leveraging your information -- An email list would not be very effective without an email address, and if one adds a bit more information, it can be a critical marketing tool for your company. Some of the ‘essential’ information could include first and last names, and zip code.
Let’s say you would like to generate a custom thank you letter to your customers. The mailing list with a zip code, for instance, could allow you to focus an electronic marketing campaign on a geographic area. The list could facilitate sharing information such as a coupon, sale, or event with the people most likely to attend.
According to a 2004 report by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft founder Bill Gates received four million emails per year, most of them spam. One can't hardly imagine what that might mean today!
Generally, the more information the list contains, the more ways that it can be used to focus your marketing efforts. For instance, including information such as gender, age, income, family composition, and preferences would make it possible to target a campaign at customers living in a particular area with children and a dog, for instance. Finally, these databases could also store behavioral information such as if the customer is a coupon user, likes to eat out, is a repeat or long-term supporter, or are very important to your business.
Managing your resource--In the ‘old days’ organizations would sell or 'rent' their mailing lists as a way to earn money. Consumers were then bombarded with email from companies they had never done business with. Email spam has steadily grown since those days nearly 90 percent of the mail delivered in 2014. The practice of selling and renting mailing lists is prohibited by law (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003 for more information).
The email term ‘spam’ comes from an immensely popular 1970 Monty Python sketch in which Spam is ubiquitous, unavoidable, and repetitive. What an amazing peak into our future, eh? 
In 2009, the estimated cost of spam to business was around $130 billion. This is quite a jump from the first email spam message sent in 1978 by Gary Thuerk to 600 people. Legal remedies were created by nearly every country, and even in many states. Legal definitions vary a bit, with no ‘silver bullet’ solution for control in site. You can find Oregon’s ‘Requirement to develop safeguards for personal information’ at https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/646A.622.
According to a 2014 report by Cyberoam, there are an average of 54 billion spam messages sent every day. In the end we should all feel quite lucky at the relatively few spam messages that we get. According to a 2004 report by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft founder Bill Gates received four million emails per year, most of them spam.
South Coast Development Council, Inc. uses Mailchimp to help distribute and manage our email lists. We are sharing this information (but not our lists!) in support of better business practices and business retention and expansion activities. Effective use of email can help expand even tiny businesses. Having a dependable and free tool creates opportunities for use and abuse to everyone. Use it with care!
You already know the answer. There will come a time, often a bad time, when a press kit, or portions of one, would be really handy.
What’s in a kit? A kit with more than a few pages needs a table of contents (TOC). The TOC may be fairly short which gives an opportunity to include key messages, images of products, projects, etc.
--Company Overview could include mission, vision, history, locations, a description of what you do, where you do it (like territory for instance), and financial trends.
--About information such as contact information, website, products, recent achievements, (particularly those that show involvement in broader markets such as regional, national, etc.), and team members (include photos and brief descriptions of skills, expertise, and knowledge).
You may not need it now, but there will come a time.
--Outreach materials which could include press releases for company and employees, advertising samples, products, testimonials (relatively short quotes could appear on several pages), outreach assets and addresses (such as Facebook followers and address) and Social Medial involvement (such as Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms).
Consider the creation of a kit like an insurance policy. You may not need it now, but there will come a time if your business thrives. Having something well thought out and put together ahead of time could save you a lot of stress and, in the end, produce a better product. Be sure to check out some of the online templates that might be able to help with some of the formatting and give you even more ideas on how to tell a compelling story and score more business!
What if you had a device that would search for and destroy weeds in your garden? Farmers have been fantasizing about that same thing forever!
And no wonder, weeds are costing farmers an estimated $11 billion a year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Technology is impacting farming in new and exciting ways with the goal of feeding the predicted population in 2050 of 9 billion people. 
Combine GPS with satellite imagery and the possibilities are endless. Consider for a moment, self-driving, precision tractors planting and harvesting crops. Sensors that can identify where additional water and/or nutrients are needed, minimize the use of herbicides so that they are applied on a plant by plant basis rather than across a landscape. Or other sensors measuring soil temperature and fertility, weather and solar exposure, and being able to advise the farmer on when to expect harvest.
In 1940 the average American farmer fed 19 people a year; today the USDA estimates that the average American farmer feeds 155 people. 
Why is this important? In theory this technology could reduce overall costs by $15-20 an acre and has already doubled crop yields in the last 10 years.  Multiply the projected cost reductions against nearly 16 million acres of farmland in Oregon alone and you have a savings, at the low end, of $240 million each year! [2,3] This number does not even touch some of the other tools and technologies such as drone bees to help with pollination, drones to harvest sweet peppers (helping with the farm workforce shortages), and improvements to the supply chain.
Technology is being used to optimize equipment and supplies, labor, and yield starting with “every seed in the right place, right depth, soil, contact, spacing that it needs to grow into a food-producing crop” pretty amazing!
In the early 1800s, it would take about 300 hours of labor to produce 100 bushels of wheat. Today, with the application of technology and AI, it takes less than an hour to produce 100 bushels of wheat. 
1 - How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis (https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-self-driving-tractors-ai-and-precision-agriculture-will-save-us-from-the-impending-food-crisis/)
2 - Agriculture 4.0: How digital farming is revolutionizing the future of food (https://www.techrepublic.com/article/agriculture-4-0-how-digital-farming-is-revolutionizing-the-future-of-food/)
3 - Ag Census shows declining farmland in Oregon (https://www.capitalpress.com/state/oregon/ag-census-shows-declining-farmland-in-oregon/article_902f9ec0-65fe-11e9-b4e8-c3553f4d11fc.html)
4 - Drone bees and agriculture robots could solve shortage of pollinators and laborers (https://www.techrepublic.com/article/drone-bees-and-agriculture-robots-could-could-solve-shortage-of-pollinators-and-laborers/)
Looking into a crystal ball and seeing the future is every economist’s dream. Futurists say we are transitioning out of the Information Age into a new theoretical Age that is very different from the past Agrarian and Industrial ages.
Like other transitions there is a certain amount of economic and social disruption. Jobs and job skills can dramatically change with each new age. The Information Age, for instance, brought on more analysis and thinking which supported technologies like virtual reality (like online training programs for learning how to fly) and user created content (like Facebook and YouTube).
The Information age also capitalized on exponential growth of data storage, data transmission, computational capabilities, and the microminiaturization process. These technologies have changed the way humans interact with each other which impacts existing economic and social structures. For instance, people now can create relationships with others that they normally in the past would never be able to do.1
The information age has changed the way that humans interact with each other and create or maintain relationships. This in turn changes existing economic and social structures.
Where are we going? We are theoretically transitioning into a new Imagination Age where if we can imagine something, it can be built. The term ‘Imagination Age’ was coined in 1993 in an article by Charlie Magee who proposed that human evolution could be assessed through a lens of communication. He suggested that the most successful groups (tribes, city, states, nation, etc.) had one thing in common--better communication than their competitors. Communication include access, quality, ability to leverage information into action, and the ability to communicate with other group members.1
How might this new Age affect our economy?. The skill set for the Information Age, for instance, was very different than the skill set needed for the Industrial Age. The skill set for the Imagination Age will be even more different. Futurists expect that 65 percent of today’s primary school students will hold jobs that don’t exist today.2
How do we prepare for jobs that don’t exist? It will take a concerted effort to think and take actions to help grow future workers. Again, the Futurists have theorized that future workers will need to be creative problem solvers that understand meaningful collaboration, risk taking, and can also improvise. They will benefit from being curious, having data interpretive skills, can think ahead, are resilient, with a bit of discipline and fun mixed in.3 This is a dramatic divergence from traditional education, experience, and thinking.
We will have, they say, an opportunity to control our destiny by designing machines that preserve our humanity... but the ability to communicate and collaborate may be the best tools we have in the future.
The Ages keep coming... They further predict an Age of Intelligence where machines may be smarter than people. Some people may be experiencing this already with their ‘Smart phone’ particularly before coffee in the morning. The phone gets us up, has a list of chores and events, and can help us research topics through high speed connections. An example of how this change is already affecting the job market can be found in publishing. Overall the publishing sector has declined, yet the “jobs for designers, architects, actors & directors, software engineers and photographers are all growing.”4 Jobs that require imagination will be at the forefront.
With all the changes in computers and data management (and movies such as “The Terminator” from 1984) this Age is fairly easy to imagine. What is not so easy to imagine is how to best prepare our future workforce for these types of challenges. One common theme seems to be the need for creative resilient workers who can collaborate well with others. Our challenge will be how to create workers to fit those needs not only through our educational processes, but through practice and mentoring.
We will have, they say, an opportunity to control our destiny by designing machines that preserve our humanity.”3 In the Intelligence Age, the ability to collaborate and communicate may perhaps be the best tools we have in the future. The next challenge may be to figure out how to ensure that our future workforce will have these skills.
1 “Imagination Age” Wikipedia, 06/04/19 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagination_age
2 “Creating an effective workforce system for the new economy” July 2018 by Chen, Wan-Lei, et al. at https://mck.co/2ETJSvk
3 “Imagination: What You Need To Thrive In The Future Economy” https://bit.ly/2wBKbXb
4 “Intelligence Age” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_age
5 “Why connecting economic and workforce development matters,” https://bit.ly/EHpLRI
As a ‘kitchen table entrepreneur’ you might sometimes feel a bit alone, particularly when it comes to resolving business problems. Recently, a micro-business owner mentioned the challenges of collecting overdue bills. They struggled with the idea of how to maintain the relationship in this tough situation.
Maintaining a relationship under this situation, can be a tricky tight rope for anyone. Sometimes bills may get paid, but you lose the customer. Often bills don’t get paid, and the customer never comes back. There’s got to be a better way!
Mediation may offer a win-win opportunity to strive for retaining a customer AND correcting the fiscal issues (past, current, and future). What’s Mediation? Mediation is a voluntary process for settling disputes with the help of a neutral third party. The third-party mediator helps facilitate confidential discussions and work towards a creative solution that is acceptable to both parties while providing the opportunity to rebuild or strengthen the relationship.
Mediation is not a court hearing but is sometimes mandated by the court. It is not a process to determine who is guilty or innocent, but it can open the dialog in a mutually respectful manner that is safe and supportive. Mediation can be significantly less expensive and quicker than going to court and is often being required in some venues before the parties are allowed to go to court.
“Mediation,” Karlee Cottrell, Community Coordinator for Common Ground Mediation explained, “can help support accountability in business transactions.” Common Ground Mediation has been helping Coos and Douglas County residents for 20 years working on many different kinds of conflicts and issues. Their website (https://www.commongroundmediation.org) contains tips and techniques to aid in the process. Or visit them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ListenTalkResolve/).
Preparation is part of a successful mediation, particularly for business issues. This could include pulling together and organizing data such as costs, dates, product/service, people involved (such as dates when service was provided, cost each and totals, copies of contracts, general operating guidelines (i.e., payment is due by x date, normal operating time is, fee schedules, etc.) and agreements, receipts, notes on previous interactions or correspondence (like a request for payment, bill, etc.). It is helpful to have your thoughts organized before entering the mediation to easily identify your issues and needs.
Your preparation may also include thinking about acceptable or possible outcomes, such as a short-term payment plan, etc. or potential negotiation areas. The Common Ground Mediation website has several other recommendations for preparing for the mediation that are worth checking out (see https://www.commongroundmediation.org/copy-of-mediation-advantages).
Mediation is cost effective and affordable, especially when compared to going to court, but services will not be refused due to inability to pay, there is a sliding scale based on need. Each issue is different, but help is out there. Skills used in the mediation process, such as listening and rebuilding relationships, are skills that can be learned and perfected. Common Ground Mediation is a section 501(c)(3) Nonprofit in the State of Oregon.
How mediation can be a part of business retention and expansion? There are bound to be some disagreements along life’s road. Business owners occasionally need a helping hand. Learning ways to resolve those problems, avoid court fees, or worse, can help a company stay in business, create stronger relationships, and get things done.
Business Retention and Expansion comes in many flavors. Resolving conflicts, such as getting paid on time, can be a major barrier for small businesses. Mediation might just make it easier to get resolution AND keep your customer!