So, as I write this month’s article and after completing my internet research on the subject, I find yet another global company has been hit with “Ransomware”. Canon USA is sadly the victim, although we do not know at this point how serious the attack is. This is now becoming one of the most worrying factors in the computing world. The reason for re-visiting this topic is because of the increase of larger companies being targeted by “Hackers” over the last month and the amount of media coverage it has got and how it affects you as end users.
Some of you may have heard of the technology company Garmin. They were hit with Ransomware late last month which crippled most of their website, email, chat, aviation data and of course the ability to upload activities from its GPS devices for running and cycling. This blackout lasted quite a few days and Garmin was bombarded by the general public for answers via social media but releasing little information on the attack. The worrying thing about this attack is that Garmin “unofficially” paid the ransom for the encryption key and this is how they got their systems back up and running. This potentially means the attack was so bad that it encrypted all of its user’s data & it would cost more to re write all new systems than paying the millions of dollars to the hackers. Now, our advice to the general public would be to NEVER pay the ransom as there is no guarantee that you will get the encryption key and your money will probably just disappear.
Don’t be fooled into thinking just because these hacks are happening to companies that they are less likely to target you. How can you avoid this? You can’t stop the incoming email if you are unfortunate enough to get one, but you can be vigilant and savvy enough to realise that it is a scam. Firstly, if in doubt just delete the email! The new development is that the scam email that you receive to start things off now includes your name & address, as well as being well written without the usual spelling mistakes and Americanisms. Secondly, you should have good anti-virus software to block the virus, and ensure you have a good backup system, either on-line or on a removable drive that is not permanently connected to your computer. Thirdly, DO NOT let random people onto your computer remotely to sort out your internet problems (or Amazon account that you don’t even have!) This is an extremely easy way to leave the virus on your computer.
I know in the current situation it is hard to try and keep on top of all these things, but I will leave you with this “your computer is only as good as your last backup”
As always, you know where to come!
Added: 16th September 2020