With ransomware attacks on the rise, here’s how to keep yourself safe online

 A central Pennsylvania newspaper outlet was hit with ransomware, locking critical files for printing their daily edition. Keep Yourself Safe Online

A similar crippling attack targeted a large broadcasting company. With downtime factored in, ransomware cost U.S. businesses $ 20 billion (RM83 billion) last year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. It raised gas prices after the nation’s largest fuel pipeline was hacked, and in an Alabama lawsuit, a hospital with a ransomware attack was blamed for infant deaths, RAM Research Source reports

Ransomware programs target a little more than businesses – law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and individuals have all fallen prey to insidious attacks carried out not only by hackers but also by organized crime groups.

It has become an economic model. They have employees, Arielle Baine, cybersecurity advisor at the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security, said of cybercriminal groups. This is concerning. This is one of the things that is happening to me. ‘prevents sleep at night.

Initially, ransomware attacks were where a user could click on a link in a phishing email, which is still very common, but now it’s advanced, like with the Colonial Pipeline attack, ”said Bruce Young. , who heads the cybersecurity operations and controls management program at the University of Harrisburg. “The bad actors actually hacked into or penetrated the Colonial Pipeline network and then used ransomware to encrypt and hold their data hostage. It’s a problem that has only gotten worse during the pandemic. Last month, we had a local example.

LancasterOnline reported that a ransomware attack hit the owner of the news agency, Steinman Communications. The attackers asked the company to pay an undisclosed sum of money to unlock files essential to printing their LNP daily newspaper and weekly newspapers. The news agency’s operations were significantly hampered after the September 30 attack, and recently they thanked their readers for their patience and support as they painstakingly rebuilt their systems after the cyberattack. Likewise, Sinclair Broadcasting was hit by a major cyberattack last month, leaving the company scrambling to restore its system, CNN reports.Keep Yourself Safe Online

While the company said all of its regional sports stations and networks were on the air and major sports network and broadcasts were being broadcast, reports indicate that the attack hampered the production of many local news broadcasts, leaving the person without email, phone, video, or graphics file. When we all started working remotely, it happened so quickly that some organizations didn’t have the infrastructure to help their employees work from home, ”Young said. “Some people may have logged in to company computers with personal computers.

Those personal computers could have been exposed systems that now connect remotely to those of their employers, setting the stage for some bad actors to step in and attack, Young said. While organizations like the Department of Homeland Security continually try to tackle the problem, sometimes even the best efforts fail. The first is for businesses and individuals to make sure they have a strong cybersecurity strategy to defend against threats, Young said, adding that threat detection capabilities are built into many security controls. security, such as firewalls.

The threats go beyond simple ransomware, Young said. To protect organizations from bad actors, you must put in place detection mechanisms so that if someone tries to break into your environment, you are alerted and you know that your protection mechanisms are working, and if there is any. has a failure, you want to be able to react and recover.

Some of the most vulnerable businesses are small or medium-sized businesses which may not have their own cybersecurity teams. But Young said those services can be outsourced or a security expert can be asked to perform an assessment to identify potential security gaps.

Another key, Young said, is backing up everything to another storage device. With today’s technology, it’s also possible to take aKeep Yourself Safe Online “snapshot” of your files, he said, and as long as the ransomware doesn’t impact the snapshot, your files can. be quickly recovered. Businesses should also work with their Internet service providers and understand the type of security services they provide. Officers from the Department of Homeland Security have a website with additional tips and helpful practices.

Keep Yourself Safe Online

They also make these recommendations:

– Regularly maintain encrypted data backups offline and regularly test your backups,

– Update the software and install the patches,

– Run up-to-date antivirus software,

– Use strong passwords. A password manager is a great tool to help track and create strong passwords,

– Implement multi-factor authentication, where you log in using a password and something else – like a code sent by SMS to your phone – to verify that it is you,

– Install and activate a firewall.

The department also recommends being on the lookout for these top signs of phishing, where malicious actors send emails or other messages asking you to click on links or provide information that could compromise your security:- RAM Research Center