NSA and Ransomware - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

If you’ve recently received a threatening demand for money on your computer, you’re likely the victim of ransomware. Thousands of computers are vulnerable to this malicious software, and it spreads like wildfire. You can probably thank this latest round of hacking, the WannaCry attack, on the United States National Security Agency.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is software that can either block system files through encryption, or lock you out of the operating system completely. Both forms of ransomware allow hackers to demand payment to grant you access to your own files. These online criminals will often set a deadline to their insistence, leaving victims helpless.

The cyber extortionists will usually only accept bitcoin, making the transaction virtually untraceable.

Why the NSA?

The NSA uses hacking tools to spy on foreign adversaries, and any holes discovered in software, are usually kept secret to make their job easier. If the flaws are leaked to hackers before the issue is fixed, anyone using the internet could be the next victim of ransomware.

A cyber group called Shadow Brokers is claiming responsibility for this attack, saying they stole this sensitive information from the NSA. They also gave warning to President Trump before making their move. It is believed this group has ties to Russia, and this may be the result of America’s airstrikes in Syria.

Who’s Targeted?

This particular infection is targeting businesses; however, a top cyber security company’s website states that the average home user is the most vulnerable for a ransomware attack. Most users think their information is safe because they are not a company, and they also fail to back up their data.

To keep safe, it is suggested that you upgrade to the latest versions of software, don’t click on unknown links, and perform regular backups of your files. It’s also a good idea to protect your computer with more than just an antivirus. You’ll want to be sure that you’re protected from malware too.

What Do You Think?

Should the NSA be held accountable? Have you been hit by one of these cyber attackers? I’d love to hear your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino