CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The FBI is warning Tri-State area businesses and you about the threat of computer hacking and demands for ransom. This comes on the heals of ransom demands of the Colonial Pipeline hack and that of the nation’s largest meat producer.
Attacks are becoming more targeted and sophisticated. Ransomware is a form of malware that disguises itself and then locks onto your computer and data. It is hidden until the hacker threatens or locks up your device. The cyberattacker then demands money through bitcoin or online payments to remove the ransomware from your device.
Usually, the cyberattackers ransomware gets downloaded onto a computer by opening a phishing email, clicking an ad, visiting a website or even checking your phone. The FBI is after those criminals.
We want to make it very expensive for them to operate,” said Steve Lampo, supervisor special agent for the FBI in Pittsburgh.
If you think your network has been infected, file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“Once we start investigating something like this, we don’t stop until we have brought them back here to face charges,” Lampo said.
The FBI says the cybercriminals running these ransomware operations are national and international. Per documented incident, $390,000 is held for ransom, and most cases go unreported, according to the FBI.
“The highest I’ve personally seen is 14 million, so some pretty hefty sums,” Lampo said.
Some tips on how to report ransomware and how to avoid becoming a victim are to avoid clicking on unfamiliar browsers or potential phishing emails. You can also stop ransomware from infecting your network by storing your data in a data center or cloud.
“The data center will serve as one of those locations. It’s safe, secure, it’s got physical security, it’s got cybersecurity,” says Rich O’Brien with Alpha Data Center.
When in doubt about a browser or email, officials say using common sense can also help protect you from cyberattacks.