Attorney General Kaul, DOJ warn Wisconsinites of increase in ransomware threats
For the Tomahawk Leader
WISCONSIN – Attorney General Josh Kaul on Monday, Sept. 13 advised Wisconsinites to be aware of “ever-evolving” ransomware threats.
“The COVID-19 health crisis has increased online dependence, which has increased the chance of Wisconsinite exposure to cybersecurity crimes,” a release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) said. “To date, the FBI has received 41 ransomware reports in Wisconsin this year, compared to 30 reports total in 2020.”
“As technological threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, DOJ’s Cyber Unit remains committed to investigating cybercrimes throughout Wisconsin,” Kaul stated in the release. “All of us can help combat the threat of ransomware by taking a few precautions: not clicking on links or attachments from unverified sources, using unique, complex passwords, and installing computer updates regularly.”
“Ransomware is a type of malicious software cyber actors use to deny access to systems or data,” DOJ said. “The malicious cyber actor holds systems or data hostage until the ransom is paid. After the initial infection, the ransomware attempts to spread to shared storage drives and other accessible systems. If the demands are not met, the system or encrypted data remains unavailable.”
DOJ said a person may unknowingly download ransomware onto a computer by executing one of the following actions embedded with malware: opening an email attachment, clicking an advertisement, following a link, or visiting a website.
“Cyber actors continue to evolve their ransomware tactics over time to extort organizations and citizens,” DOJ stated. “Awareness of these tactics is important to avoid unnecessary exposure.”
DOJ recommended keeping an offline backup of files and avoiding unfamiliar contact through emails, links, advertisements, websites, text messages, etc., to avoid falling victim to ransomware attacks.
For more information on how to avoid ransomware attacks, visit www.bit.ly/3EiPAUH.
“Victims of ransomware attacks are encouraged to resist any urge to fulfill a ransom request,” DOJ said. “Compliance in response to a ransom does not guarantee the captured data will be returned. Compliance also encourages perpetrators to target more victims and offers an incentive for other cyber actors to get involved in this type of illegal activity.”
In the event of a ransomware attack, DOJ recommends contacting its Cyber Unit (www.wifusion.widoj.gov/) or a local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office (www.ic3.gov/).