Ransomware ubiquitous as nation reacts to pipeline compromise


New headlines on some of the scariest cyberattacks out there are highlighting the reality that just like a ransomware caper happens to one of the largest oil distributors on the East Coast, it can also happen to you.


Samantha Murphy Kelly at CNN Business reports on how ransomware attackers aren’t just targeting schools and hospitals or government offices – that they also routinely hijack the personal computers of individual users, demanding ransom for personal or even sensitive data.


The TLDR on this one is that law enforcement officials suggest you shouldn’t pay a ransom for your data. That’s partially because there is no guarantee that you’ll get your stuff back. The combination of the global Internet and anonymous payment systems like Bitcoin means that it’s next to impossible to catch these criminals.


Instead, experts recommend three things – first, create backups of all valuable data. It’s also important to be mindful of what you do on the Internet – as Kelly notes, the ransomware attackers targeting individuals often use free porn sites or other shady web domains to hide their Trojan horses.


A third solution, though, can be even more effective. It’s the idea of using a burner device for Internet surfing.


In other words, if the computer that you use to surf the web doesn’t have stored personal data on it, ransomware attackers can steal the entire drive a hundred times, and not have anything of value. That simple act of separating your Internet-connected device from the device to hold your personal data is a pretty effective ransomware mitigator.


Kelly also suggests you shouldn’t trust post-ransomware devices – even after the problem is fixed, malware could remain running in the background, including keyloggers, by which hackers can get your credit card information and more.


Here’s the bottom line – stay on the alert for these kinds of digital power grabs and defend yourself accordingly.