More than 20 municipalities in the US have been hit by ransomware attacks this year alone, the software has grown rapidly by an internet worm that spreads copies of itself by hacking into other computers on a network. These attacks can be expensive, costing not only the company, but the public time. Especially if those targeted say they won’t pay. In 2018 hackers demanded the City of Atlanta to pay about $50,000 in bitcoin in ransomware, the city refused and the attack actually ended up costing the city about $17 million to fix the damages. These ransomware attacks have not only recently been in Atlanta but other local governments across the US demonstrate that as these attacks spread more common targets will include schools and hospitals. Can you imagine not being able to graduate or not being able to have your MRI results because all your patient files are being held by these attackers? That’s exactly what happened in Baltimore, May 7th 2019 hackers targeted and digitally seized 10,000 government computers and are demanding around $100,000 in Bitcoins to free them back up. Not only are government employees locked out and are un able to have access to their computers, files and emails, the cities public residents are effected. Services that are utilized for paying water bills are not able to be accessed, paying parking tickets, or property tax payments. Last year Baltimore’s 911 Operating System was down for about a day from a separate ransomware attack.
“Ransomware” attack, where hackers deploy malicious software to block access to or take over a computer system. The basic idea behind ransomware is simple: A criminal hacks into your computer, scrambles your files with unbreakable encryption, and then demands that you pay for the encryption key needed to unscramble the files until it forces the owner of that system to pay a ransom to get their own files back. If you have files that are very important on your computer, you might be willing to pay a lot or succumb to the demands to avoid losing them. The most effective way you can protect your computer from these ransomware attacks is to do regular backups, the malware can only encrypt and delete files that are on your computer. If you are implementing a regular backup of your files, either to an external hard drive or using an online service and your computer is targeted then you can wipe your infected computer clean. Once clean simply reinstall its software and then restore your files from the backup copy you have. The unfortunate difficulty is most people don’t keep adequate and routine backups so they are more likely to be impacted by these attacks so negatively.
Big name companies have made public this week some major security flaws in their devices. While it is not uncommon for companies to disclose information on potential vulnerabilities, this week the sheer number growing rapidly seems shocking.
Microsoft is trying to prevent the outbreak of a computer system bug. A serious flaw in Windows 7, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 and 2008 systems. Which can be exploited to create malware that is capable of automatically spreading from one vulnerable machine to another. Microsoft is urging those running older Windows systems to patch their machines. However, Windows 8 and Windows 10 are immune from the threat.
Intel found a susceptibility in every chip manufactured since 2011, which using 4 different bugs would steal data from victims processor. Cisco’s 1001-X router can be compromised using 2 different bugs, which would gain access to the router, then to administrative privileges on the device. This poses some wide range implications with just how marketed both commercial and residential Cisco products are. WhatsApp, an encrypted messenger service owned by Facebook has its own vulnerabilities by hackers implanting spyware onto a victims phone via Voice Call (even without you answering the call).
Luckily, these companies let it be known that they will be releasing patches, or make sure you download the latest version for your peace of mind.