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Ransomware Everywhere! What to do?

June 26, 2016
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©Matthew Smith 2016, for Unsplash

 

Yes, I’m blogging about ransomware again – this month. But I can justify this. You see, we can’t make these hackers go away anytime soon. They’re spreading like wildfire locking and encrypting computer files then demanding a huge ransom to return back access to their victims. About 25,000 incidents were reported in 2015 and cost victims more than 24 million dollars. Ransomware attacks affect all industries, businesses, communities, and individuals. Can you really ignore these criminals when you’re locked out of your files, your life or business? I can’t!

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©Liane Metzler 2016, for Unsplash

Just when you would think I’d kick back in my United Airline’s seat 17E  and do absolutely nothing for five hours, I noticed the  cover of HEMISPHERE magazine and there! An article on none other than ransomware. “Oh, dear! What’s new?” I thought and leafed through the mag to find out. I figured, any news that chased me thousands of miles into the sky was worth my undivided attention.

 

Did you know Michael Phelps is now the maker and seller of signature swim spas, i.e., hot tubs? I’m digressing a bit but it was right there just  a couple of pages before I got to the ransomware article. I was curious if these tubs are  “connected”  –  yes, an upgrade to Phelps’ premium edition will get you a sound system and Wi-Fi but no concerns of ransomware here. Michael Phelps is loving it!

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©Jacob Walti 2016, for Unsplash

 

Okay, so I landed safely and sound at my destination with more knowledge of ransomware than I had before boarding my flight.  I learned  that hackers collected $209 million in total ransom in the first three months of 2016.  That’s enormous! Don’t you think? I don’t even want to know what the numbers will be this December – but I have no choice. I was glad I shoved that magazine in my carryon luggage to share this information with everyone.  Maybe this can keep us on our toes a bit. The criminals are not playing, neither should you. There’s a lot at stake here when  personal information is hijacked or business operations suddenly come to a standstill and you’re left with two tearful choices, pay up or lose everything. The hackers have the upper hand during these transactions. To them, business is booming so why should you expect them to stop attacking you any time soon.

 

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©John Cobb 2016, for Unsplash

Thanks to the warm invitation to attend the TRUSTe‘s Privacy Risk Summit. I sat in the  Privacy and Surveillance expert panel discussion gleaning some insights as Eleanor Treharne-Jones, TRUSTe’s VP of Consulting extracted thoughts from three global experts among them Christopher Mesnooh, Partner, Fieldfisher;  Kenesa Ahmad, Co-Founder, Women In Security & Privacy; and FBI’s Assistant Special Agent, Malcolm (MK) Palmore – who by the way happened to bring up the subject of ransomware during the panel discussion. Wow, this topic followed me there too.

©Jeremy Portje 2016
©Jeremy Portje, for TRUSTe Privacy Risk Summit 2016

 

I listened on…

©Jeremy Portje 2016
©Jeremy Portje, for TRUSTe Privacy Risk Summit 2016

 

 

…and was really excited about MK’s insights on ransomware and asked that he shared more information with me soon. He kindly forwarded an article to my inbox days later. It’s really a “must read” from the FBI CyberDIVISION and applies to individuals and organizations alike. It’s a friendly read, not to mention, a very short one just in case your time is tight. The article highlights infection vectors, prevention considerations, business continuity considerations, and wraps up with other essentials you’ll need at your fingertips.

 

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©Hannah Wei 2016, for Unsplash

Remember my previous blog post, Ransomware, A Growing Cyber Threat? , did you know that following the ransomware attack at the Hollywood hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center  in Washington DC was the next emergency room stop for hackers? I have a brief clip here from FoxNews broadcast

 

©Jeremy Portje 2016
©Jeremy Portje 2016, for TRUSTe Privacy Risk Summit

 

According to WIRED magazine, hospitals are the prime target largely because they’re providing critical care and require up-to-date patient information to fulfill their mission. Every second counts. There’s more pressure and panic for healthcare facilities to pay the ransom to ensure the return of information needed to save lives. That’s the reason hackers go after them more.

Super! You’re done reading this post. Now watch a really neat video to learn 1. How ransomware continues to affect individuals and organizations like yours, 2. Know when to report to authorities, pay a ransom and when to pass-up on one, 3. Learn more ways to protect yourself. If you really have a few minutes to kill, move on to 4. Learn how to brave removing ransomware. Really? I haven’t tried it though but yes, just watch below!

Just in case you didn’t know, I have more cybersecurity and privacy thoughts to share – in person. Join me in Dallas! View the full schedule for #ISSAConf at www.issa.org/issaconf

Let THE PRIVACY ADVOCATE help you with your data privacy strategies, management, training, compliance needs, and more.  Worry about other things!

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