Last week, Texas was hit with a ransomware cyberattack. Texas State officials have confirmed that a total of 22 municipalities have had their computer systems infiltrated and compromised.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is an umbrella term for a group of viruses that hold your files and data hostage– either by encrypting your data (similar to putting a lock on them) so that they’re unreadable or by locking you out of your computer altogether.
In this attack, hackers have been asking for $2.5 million to unlock the files on the computers of one of the cities. FixMeTip: We recommend never paying after a ransomware attack. Here’s why.
How This Happened
In this case, the hacker sent a seemingly benign email with malicious links and attachments. Once the unsuspecting target clicked on the link or attachment, the ransomware was then able to infect a computer system and spread throughout the network.
Other popular ways of tapping into government networks and personal computers are through remote desktop systems. This allows the attacker to establish a connection to your computer via an internet connection and take control of your system.
How To Protect Yourself From Ransomware
Sometimes, businesses and individuals have no other option for restoring their files than paying the ransom demanded by hackers. For example, in Lake City, Florida, officials paid $460,000 in bitcoin using insurance and taxpayer money.
To protect yourself from ransomware, consider backing up your files as we described in last week’s blog – Should You Back Up Your Computer? This will create an extra copy of all your files so even if hackers put a lock on your computer, you can still access the backup copy and discard the original ones.
And of course, you can always use run an antivirus program like McAfee and use your FixMeStick to protect yourself. Note the FixMeStick will not be able to remove the lock on your files, but it can remove the ransomware virus for you.