Cyber Security: Developing Threats

The U.S. is the most heavily targeted country for extortion malware, or “ransomware,” and local governments are targets.

ARTICLE | Jun 16, 2016

The U.S. is the most heavily targeted country for extortion malware, or “ransomware,” and local governments are targets. Something as simple as clicking on an ad while using a networked computer can activate malware that can encrypt all the files in the network. Hackers will then demand a ransom in exchange for the encryption key. Given the potentially high cost of finding a solution to the problem, some victims end up paying the ransoms.

County and municipal governments in Ohio have seen many attacks over the last year. While cyberattackers typically demand under $1,000 and many never receive their demands due to diligent security practices, not all victims are so fortunate. One county had to pay $2,500 to retrieve their court data. Ransomware, while newer, is not the only form of attack present.

A county’s agricultural society paid over $60,000 after a cybercriminal posing as the IRS infiltrated their system while pretending to be seeking back taxes. In another incident involving a technique called “spearphishing”, a school district treasurer transferred nearly $40,000 to an account while acting under the supposed direction of her supervisor. Spearphishing, a more deceptive form of the infamous phishing attempts, uses emails appearing to be sent by a peer or supervisor requesting routine fund transfers, only to a cybercriminal’s account.

To protect your county from these types of threats, take a look at these tips and tools. Read more about the Ohio cyberattacks here

Advertisement

You may also be interested in