HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Bishop Museum is just one organization on a growing list to be hit with ransomware–a type of malware that encrypts files blocking the user from accessing them. The user is then told to pay money to get their files unlocked.
Ransomware attacks usually come in the form of a phishing scam or an email with a link–that once opened–will infect the computer and any others connected to it.
Cyber expert Chris Duque said ransomware can totally cripple a company.
“It will stop all business. Depending on what they use their system for. For instance, billing or ticketing of tickets into the Bishop Museum, email communication between exhibitors and so forth, all that is stopped and now they’ve got to find a way to communicate with the customers, vendors and their suppliers.”
In an email, a spokesperson from the Bishop Museum said:
“The Bishop Museum experienced a ransomware attack which caused us to temporarily shut down our IT system. We are very fortunate that our data is secure. While we work with the FBI on investigating the matter, Bishop Museum remains open to the public.“
Though the ransomware attack did cause some problems at the Bishop Museum, it was nothing compared to reports of how the malicious software impacted essential government services in in Pensacola, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, Galt, California and St Lucie, Florida earlier this month.
Duque said it’s common to hear about different organizations being hit with ransomware. He said a friend in New Orleans recently told him about what happened there.
“He’s a sergeant in the New Orleans police department. He messaged me the day they got hit. He said the system, not only their department but some of the different agencies in the municipality of New Orleans, got hit with ransomware.”
According to tech company Emisoft, there have been 103 state agencies and 759 health care providers across the U.S. attacked in 2019 costing more than $7.5 billion dollars.
According to Duque, it’s not a matter of if a person or business will be infected with ransomware or a similar virus it’s a matter of when so he advises everyone to take precautions to prevent it from happening.
“Number one, back up your data,” said Duque. “Number two, don’t take anything for granted on email even if you get one email from a trusted contact. A lot of times the scammers or the hackers are able to spoof the email address and what they want you to do is click on a link or open up some kind of attachment on the email, like a phishing email–be cautious of that.”
Duque said employees who work remotely should be cautious of using internet hot spots. They should take extra steps to protect themselves by using a VPN.
He added that up-to-date antivirus and malware protection are essential.
Duque said if you do get hit, do not pay the ransom.
“Do not fold over and give the ransom because they’re not going to decrypt your computer. Second if they do it’s only a temporary fix. Third if they do decrypt it, they alreayd got your data,” Duque explained.
He said that ransomware usually has two parts to it.
“Often times the ransom taker embeds the ransomware, locks up the computer and at the same time sucks up all the data and transmits it to their location to be later accessed by them to use in other schemes, scams and so forth.”
If you do fall victim to ransomware, Duque said the best thing to do is unplug the computer.
“Take the system offline…You want to quarantine the virus from spreading through the network. If it’s a stand-alone computer you want to make sure you don’t hook up your devices especially your phone or a tablet to the device. Shut it down and then hopefully you backed up your system.”
The next step, especially if an business or organization has been attacked is to call the FBI.
“Let them know you got hit with ransomware…They have the resources that can investigate the case and if they identify a suspect, which most times is going to be overseas, they can take some action.”