by Walter Moore

I’m sure everyone has heard about the ransomware attack that has happened to the Colonial Pipeline which has created a frenzy amongst excitable personalities and created a line only Walt Disney himself could appreciate for one of his many amusements at the gas pump. Many ask what is ransomware? Ransomware is usually an attack in which an email or some other means to transfer a file which is in fact malicious software that denies you access to your systems or computer. To regain access you must pay the theives a “ransom” to regain access usually through cryptocurrency as the money cannot be traced. One might ask, well why would anyone click such a link? Well let’s dive into that.

Usually what a criminal will do is hack into an email exchange to gain access to folks emails. They will look and see an email account and attempt to replicate the email server data thus gaining access to your accounts without the actual owner of the account knowing. Usually this is because many do not secure their accounts and systems with 2 factor authentication which would notify you if someone else has attempted to gain access. The attacker will then go through the emails of said victim, spoof the account and send out emails to anyone while attaching a link to their ransomware software which to most will call a virus. When you click this suspicious link and download the software you have given them access to your computer and now they are in control and can lock down your computer and/or systems until you pay a ransom to them.

So one might ask who is suseptible to a ransomware attack? Well as an accountant, you have a lot of valuable information so you’re highly suseptible. To prevent such an attack, never ever click links to an email you don’t trust. If you see a link from someone you do trust, hover over it without clicking to see where it leads and read the link. If it looks even slightly off call that individual to see if they actually sent it. Phishing emails should be deleted and the sender blocked and always have 2 factor authentication on your accounts. At the end of the day slowdown and read an email closely especially if you see any links. Another trick is with fake PDF links that look like attachments. Hover over the attachment and make sure it’s a PDF file and not a link to a malicious website.

An ounce of prevention can keep you safe. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out by email walter@msatp.org.