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Here is the ransom note


After 3 years of being in business, the hosting company where my servers were, got a ransom note.

Over coffee we are talking to one of our customers about having your own business. About the excitement but also challenges. This one is right up there. 

They needed to pay a certain amount of bitcoins or the data would not be recovered.

Not a lame threat as the attackers were under investigation by the FBI but after 2 years there was no sign they would ever get caught.

"My servers were not hacked but the infrastructure around it was. For me, the same result: everything was gone. I did have a so called 'disaster recovery' but that was also compromised."

It could happen to you

"We got everything really secure, this will not happen to us. Here is the wake up call: there is no guarantee. Sure, nowadays, I also have offsite backups that are not connected to the internet, but the truth is you don't know if it is enough until the moment arrives. And it is a bit like driving in traffic: you may be an excellent driver but there are many on the road that are lesser gods."

What happened next?

"Everything goes at warp speed at that point. Hosting company explains that they won't pay (in some parts of the world it is even illegal to pay ransom) which left me empty handed. Of course,first job was to inform customers as it is considered 'leaked data', although technically it is not leaked but you can not access the data. 

Next step: the police. I tried to explain that someone had broken into the datawarehouse and held the infrastructure hostage. Okay, so is the burglar still in the building? I am not making this up. And I am sure that the lady was as helpful as she possibly  could but there was no way we would have a useful conversation. I did the paperwork and needed to move on. 

But: how to move forward? Because until this date, the servers are officially still quarantined by the FBI. You actually need to start over.

I decided to throw a curve ball. For some years I was looking at the rise of low code and I wanted to make the jump. In this case I was pushed. The challenge was to deliver projects that were starting and rebuild at the same time. I am very pleased to say that within 3 months most of what was built in 3 years was back online. And actually better than before as you learn along the way. After two more months I was profitable again."

Looking back

"Honestly, it was a crazy decision to make the jump as rash as I did. Embracing new technology in a time like that, makes no sense whatsoever. It is the recipe for a burn out, bankruptcy and a divorce. But it was a calculated risk. I had seen Plant an app before and my guess was that the learning curve would be compensated by not having to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Fortunately, thanks to Plant an app, a lot of hard work and several friends who were willing to help, it turned out well."

At Plant an app we have heard many usecases where our platform made a huge difference, but this scenario was really remarkable. We raised our glasses to a business and a marriage saved.

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