For the past several months, I have written multiple blogs that detail just how important it is to stay safe from cyber attacks. As our world relies more and more on technology, we must be prepared to fight off technological threats. One of the most common, and successful, technological threats to modern society is the dreaded computer virus. And a type of computer virus that has been gaining some serious momentum these last few years has been ransomware. We’ve seen just how powerful this type of virus has become; just recently a ransomware attack was responsible for the largest cyberattack in history, striking multiple different organizations and institutions across the world. This latest attack hits very close to home.
Before I go any further, for those that are unaware, ransomware attacks are a specific type of computer virus that are designed to lock up an unsuspecting user’s computer and hold the computer, and all of its information, ransom. Once the victim pays the ransom, the virus then dissipates and the victim can use the computer normally. Sometimes the process can be as clear and cut as described; most of the time, it isn’t. Several malicious ransomware viruses will receive the ransom and then proceed to wipe the computer’s information.
Just recently, Mecklenburg County, a North Carolina county that includes the city of Charlotte, was hit by a nasty ransomware attack that left the county’s officials in a terrible position. The county’s governments servers were attacked by ransomware software which, in essence, prevented the city from performing a variety of necessary tasks. Some of the information that has been compromised includes child support and inmate population information, as well as domestic violence services. This information is incredibly sensitive and is necessary for certain functions to be carried out.
County officials are not worried, however, stating that the data that is in danger of being compromised is quite secure, and that the county will not pay the outrageous $23,000 ransom.
Despite the bevy of disruptions, the county has a positive outlook on the situation. That being said, it is important to note that ransomware attacks are not laughing matters. They have the ability to shut down entire governments, as we’ve seen demonstrated twice in the last year.
Be safe and make sure that you are protected against cyber attacks.