Phishing link click and their associated costs are big news. If you remember, last week we brought you a story from BullGuard about European banks and their need for better phishing protection.
To put the potential costs involved into perspective, here’s another story that highlights what a phishing attack can equate to in hard earned cash. It’s quite an eye-opener.
Ransomware has slipped off the mainstream media radar of late but it’s still out there causing havoc.
BullGuard reported the latest victims, which are two townships in Florida, US:
- The town of Riviera Beach, 80 miles from Miami, paid US $600,000 worth of Bitcoins to a cybercrook who had locked its IT systems with ransomware
- Lake City, a small town in Northern Florida, paid $460,000-worth of Bitcoin to hackers to regain control of its email systems and servers
In both cases the ransomware infections appear to be the result of users mistakenly clicking on malicious links in their emails, which then released the ransomware into the wider IT systems.
- Riviera Beach lost access to its email, IT systems were knocked offline and 911 emergency services were disrupted
- Lake City local government departments had to resort to pen and paper and residents were told to monitor the Lake City Police Department’s Facebook page for any critical updates
These attacks are the latest in an on going trend in which cyber criminals target the US public sector with crippling ransomware attacks.
- So far in 2019 there have been 22 known attacks on US public-sector organisations including Baltimore and New York’s state capital, Albany
- Two of the most destructive ransomware attacks were in Atlanta and Newark with more than $6 million extorted in ransoms. The US Department of Justice said these two attacks alone caused more than $30 million in damage
The cyber villains launching these attacks come from disparate backgrounds ranging from Iranian hackers to suspects in Romania and Hungary.
The one thing they have in common is the recognition that the US public sector is vulnerable to ransomware attacks and often willing to pay to have their systems unlocked.
What does this mean for you?
As a home user (or small business), you’re hardly presenting the same ‘half a million dollar’ opportunity that US public sector organisation are. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t become a target, especially when ransomware crooks decide to launch a mass phishing mail campaign.
To keep yourself safe, always use layered security software designed to identify new types of malware, including ransomware. And, always back up your data whether it’s to cloud-based storage or a stand-alone device.
MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding villages.