A ransomware attack forced the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., to shut itself down on Friday. In response, the U.S. government has declared a state of emergency to keep fuel supply lines open while the Colonial Pipeline Company does its best to get the pipeline back online. It is unclear what impact this shutdown will have on gas supply or gas prices. Experts say it depends on how quickly operations resume.
With ransomware attacks are on the rise, this is a good time to remind you what they are and what you can do to protect your computer(s).
Ransomware (aka cryptoviral extortion) is a particularly nasty type of covert malware attack that either blocks access to your computer or, worse, encrypts all the data on your computer until you pay the ransom. Attackers almost always demand that the victim pay the ransom in cryptocurrency because it is extremely difficult (and sometimes impossible) to trace the owner of a digital wallet.
Importantly, the vast majority of ransomware attacks happen because the victim has been tricked (socially engineered) to open a file containing the ransomware. This is almost always accomplished by disguising an email attachment as something the victim will click.
The number one way to protect your digital world is to never click on an email attachment that you didn’t specifically ask to receive or one from a source you do not know. You can (and should) also make sure that you use antivirus software that scans your email attachments when they arrive and flags the ones that may contain malware.
Please take a moment to ensure that all of your software (including your antivirus software) is up to date.
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.