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Ransomware attackers take an entire city hostage - Is your city at risk, too?

Ransomware attackers take an entire city hostage - Is your city at risk, too?
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

We've been telling you a lot about ransomware attacks. With good reason: People like you are losing millions of dollars each year to these attacks, and there's not much that law enforcement or the FBI can do about it.

Last year, the FBI investigated 2,453 cases of ransomware attacks. The attackers, who install a nasty type of malware onto people's computers and small business computer systems, stole $24.1 million in those cases.

Now, ransomware attackers are upping their game to frightening new levels. Notably, the computer system of the city of Plainfield, New Jersey, was recently held hostage. Ransomware attackers, who may have been fiddling inside the city's computer system for up to a year before the attack, demanded about $731 to be paid in bitcoin, an untraceable form of digital currency.

When city officials called law enforcement, the ransomware attackers backed off. But, believe it or not, Plainfield isn't the only city that's been taken over by ransomware attackers.

The city of Ilion, New York, was victimized twice by ransomware attacks. The city's mayor said officials paid a few hundred dollars in ransom to get access to their computer system returned to them. The city of Melrose, Massachusetts, paid $500 in bitcoin to ransomware attackers who took over the city's police department computers.

Recently, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles paid $17,000 in bitcoins after hackers took over its system, including medical records, for 10 days.

Note: Ransomware is a form of malware that uses encryption to lock up your computer. It's almost impossible to get access back, unless you give in to ransomware attackers' demands.

Unfortunately, ransomware threats are growing at a fast rate, so you're increasingly likely to encounter this threat. Your best bet is to keep it an arm's length with strong security software.

 

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