Consumer Alert: Officials warn of rise in ransomware computer attacks

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HONOLULU (KHON2) – According to experts, ransomware computer attacks are on the rise nationwide.

These types of cyber attacks often start off with threatening emails.

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“Threatening their family, or like, saying they know where they live or they’re going to take money out of their bank accounts,” said Tim Caminos, CEO of CEWI Technologies. “If they don’t do something, then they’ll say something as simple as, you know, ‘We’re going to hack all of your machines and send something to your friends and your family saying that you’re a bad person.'”

A ransomware attack is when someone will get access to a consumer’s computer through a link within an email. Then they’ll lock up the device and hold it ransom until the owner of the system pays up.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is seeing an increase in these cyber attacks.

“Ransomware is a growing concern, and malicious actors are casting a wide net,” said Frank Calvillo, from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “Anyone who stores information on a computer connected to the internet is at risk.”

Officials say individuals aren’t normally targeted. It’s usually universities, law enforcement, businesses and hospitals.

“Especially small businesses, because they do have cash or capital to hand over to people for access back to their goods on a machine. Generally, the information on their machines are a lot more valuable and they can’t live without them,” said Caminos.

Experts say the best way to protect a device from a ransomware attack is to never click on unsolicited links.

“Never respond to unexpected emails or text messages. Also, users should never open attachments or visit web links in unsolicited or unexpected emails,” Calvillo said.

“Sometimes the name will look like it’s from someone you know, but the email address is different,” Caminos said. “Again, just contact that person separately, not via that email, and find out if that’s really from them.”

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