HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The FBI says Ransomware is the fastest growing malware threat that targets all kinds of users. Ransomware targets home users, businesses, and government networks that can lead to temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information.
The FBI said Ransomware may direct a user to clink on a link to pay a ransom. But beware, the link may be malicious and could lead to additional malware infections. Some ransomeware variants display intimidating messages such as: "Your computer was used to visit websites with illegal content. To unlock your computer, you must pay a $100 fine."
The Unites States government recommends that users and administrators protect themselves from ransomware. They have preventive measures for people to follow to protect themselves.
The most recent Ransomware hitting headlines is Wannacry. The cyber attack has affected 150 countries. It's impacted businesses and hospitals.
All Points Vice President of Cyber Operations Shane Hammett said malware like Wannacry is always going to be around in the age of the internet.
"I jokingly say that the only way to totally get rid of the risk is to disconnect from the internet and get rid of all of your employees. But of course no one wants to operate in that environment," Hammett said.
Hammett said once your system is infected with ransomeware it targets sensitive data and that`s really the value of it. It encrypts that data in a way that it is no longer useable. He said the value in ransomware is that they target the entities that aren't necessarily prepared like some businesses and hospitals.
He said the best form of defense for the crime is to have a resilience plan in place. He said most of the time beginner hackers are behind ransomware.
"More of your advanced persistent threat nation type factors are going to be using tools that are more deceptive in nature. This was a very noisy attack that we saw and it was intended to get the attention as almost as a digital extortion," Hammett explained.
He said most of the time hackers use ransomware to go after big corporations, but they can go after people on their personal computer.
"Anytime you are clicking on links, that can cause a ransomware attack depending on what the pay load is," Hammett explained.
Though they go after big corporations, sometimes if you work for a big corporation hackers may go after you. But some places, like the City of Huntsville, are well prepared. "Huntsville is one of the better cities in state as far as being prepared to defend against a large-scale cyber attack," Hammett said.
He said natural disasters like tornadoes motivated the city to be prepared. "It`s a similar type of response or recovery if you think about it. You don't have power essentially, you have taken out the capability of doing anything on the internet," Hammett explained.
Even though ransomware hackers usually go after the bigger fish, you can still take precautions with your personal computer by patching, maintaining updates, and being resilient.
"Resilience is the key to recovery in any of this, so no matter what the latest malware is if we have the resilience plans in place that will allow us a primary and secondary forms of recovery; then we will be able to sustain any attacks," Hammett said.
The City of Huntsville will be hosting the 9th annual National Cyber Security Summit on June 6-8, 2017, at the Von Braun Center. Cyber Security experts like Hammett will be there. For more information click here.