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DEFENDERS: Protecting yourself against ransomware attacks


After several major companies were hit with ransomware attacks, the White House gave a stern warning this week to companies to beef up it's security systems.

It's not just big corporations that are at risk, cybersecurity experts worry about small businesses and individuals who are also targets.

"I worry for these small businesses, the ones who don't really have the expertise or are in kind of a vulnerable position. They don't always know how to react when these things happen," Prasad Calyam, a University of Missouri professor and expertise in cybersecurity.

Calyam told ABC 17 News hackers are only getting smarter and the attacks are only getting more sophisticated.

"We are seeing more targeted attacks, they (hackers) are trying to exploit these businesses," he said. "It just takes them (hackers) one weakness."

Just this week the Department of Justice announced it took back $2.3 million in cryptocurrency paid to the group known as DarkSide, which targeted Colonial Pipeline. Calyam said it's encouraging knowing the department has found ways to follow the money.

"There's no real answer on whether to pay the ransom or not. But I am encouraged by the idea that the government is figuring out ways to follow the money. If they're able to make sure those ransoms don't get in, then there's more deterrence," Calyam said.

In the meantime, here are five steps businesses can take to protect itself.

  • Understanding your organizations' security position
  • Deciding on your security design principles
  • Getting ready to fact potential cyber hackers
  • Outsmart your cyber hacker
  • Maintaining a resilient security position

As far as individuals and what you can do to protect yourself, Calyam said it's a simple as changing your password regularly, not giving out sensitive information, having a backup drive and knowing how to spot a 'bad link.'

Calyam encourages small businesses to look at cybersecurity resources. You can find a handout here and video links here.

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Deborah Kendrick

Deborah is a weekday evening anchor and investigative reporter for ABC 17 News.


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