Ransomware Cyberattack: What You Need to Know

May 15, 2017
A widespread ransomware cyberattack affected approximately 75,000 computers in 99 countries across the globe on Friday, May 12. Important security preventions can be learned from this incident.

 

A widespread ransomware cyberattack affected approximately 75,000 computers in 99 countries across the globe on Friday, May 12. Important security preventions can be learned from this incident.

 

Ransomware: What is it?

This ransomware, called “WannaCry,” is spread via email with a file attachment. When the attachment is opened on a vulnerable computer, the ransomware takes over, locks down all the files on an infected computer, and asks the computer's user to pay in order to regain control of the files.

 

Who was affected?

Companies and government agencies worldwide were the targets of the “WannaCry” attack. Organizations with Windows systems that had not been updated were most vulnerable.

 

The ransomware incidents are a reminder of how important cybersecurity is, especially when handling financial information. While many industries were affected and were found to have vulnerabilities, the banking industry has remained largely unaffected as of Sunday, May 14. Rob Wainwright, the head of the European Union's law enforcement agency, Europol, told CNN that “very few banks if any have been affected because they've learned from painful experience of being the number one target for cybercrime."

 

Nusenda Credit Union has policies and processes in place to apply security patches as they are released, protecting the credit union from cybersecurity events. Furthermore, Nusenda was not affected by Friday’s attacks. The credit union’s email gateway proactively scans for and blocks malicious attachments in emails, such as the one used in this attack. Employees also have ongoing internal cybersecurity awareness training and continue to stay vigilant to protect member account information.

 

What can you do?

Experts expect the frequency of cyber extortion threats to become more frequent. For this reason, the FBI recommends implementing prevention efforts and having a plan in place in the event of an attack. Here are some ways to prepare and protect yourself from these threats:

  • Keep your computer patched and updated.
  • Have up-to-date virus protection on your computer and conduct regular virus scans.
  • Do not open email attachments from people you don’t know or were not expecting to receive.

If you experience a ransomware or cyber extortion threat, report the incident to federal law enforcement. For more information on ransomware and the most up–to-date cyber-crime research, please visit: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber.

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