TAMPA, Fla. – Ransomware attacks are an ongoing problem, according to the FBI, putting personal PCs and business servers in jeopardy. Federal law enforcement officers say an attack can occur in as little as one click – and scammers are getting better at tricking even the more tech-savvy among us.
“Everyone is at risk,” said FBI special agent Daniel Sirmons.
The latest warning follows the extradition of a 34-year-old Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins from Canada to Tampa. He faces charges related to ransomware attacks using software known as NetWalker.
The US Department of Justice says NetWalker has been used to target businesses, municipalities, and even law enforcement. The DOJ also says attacks were aimed at the health care industry during the height of the pandemic, amounting to millions of dollars in losses.
RELATED: The 20 most common passwords leaked from data breaches — did yours make the list?
“Usually, they ask for payment in virtual currency – bitcoin is the most notable one,” Sirmons said.
The FBI advises against following through and paying cyber criminals if they manage to hold your computer or data hostage.
“There’s no guarantee you’re going to get what you pay for. Second, it emboldens and incentivizes the perps to conduct this activity,” he said.
MORE: Cyber hygiene: Check your exposure to hackers with these online tools
The FBI recommends everyone back-up their data, use multi-factor authentication, keep security software up to date, and – of course – think before you click that link.
“Just because it says it’s from such-and-such, doesn’t mean that’s true,” Sirmons told Fox 13.