Cyber attacks prompt warning from OPP
With a rise in “ransomware” computer attacks, the Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry Ontario Provincial Police detachment is warning the public to be wary of hackers using this latest scam.
There have been no reported incidents to date in SD&G but people should remain vigilant.
In recent months there have been several ransomware virus attacks on businesses and municipal government offices in Ontario. What is a ransomware attack? A ransomware attack occurs when a cyber criminal infects a victim's computer systems with malware that encrypts the data on those systems making them inaccessible and unusable without a decryption key.
The cyber criminals will then demand some sort of ransom, usually in Bitcoin, in exchange for the decryption key. There are many types of ransomware that are distributed in various ways. The most common methods of infection begin with a phishing email or direct hacking of a vulnerable computer system. Who is being targeted? Everyone is a target, but individuals tend to be targeted by mass-market ransomware campaigns, while businesses and government offices tend to be the victims of more targeted attacks. Who do you call? Victims of ransomware attacks should contact the OPP.
Information provided to your local police service can then be provided to the OPP Cybercrime Investigations Team to assist in identifying the particular family and versions of ransomware impacting Ontario.
This information should include: a screenshot/photograph of the ransomware demand, a screenshot/photograph of the encrypted files including full file name and extension, any contact email address provided by the attackers and any bitcoin wallet addresses provided by the attackers.
What should be done to prevent a ransomware attack?
IT technicians of private and public entities should constantly assess and invest in the security of their computer systems. An integral part of prevention is to ensure proper offline backups of computer system data, strong password policies, and cyber security education and awareness for their employees.
Individuals or businesses receiving a security or financial threat must determine for themselves whether a ransom should be paid.
The OPP does not support paying ransomware attackers, as it only encourages further criminal activity, and there is no guarantee that payment will restore the encrypted data.
That being said, companies and individual victims should address threats based upon the nature and severity of the threat and only after carefully considering the best interests of the individual or company's employees, stakeholders and shareholders.