Computer security professional guards against ransomware attacks


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — With so much in the news lately about computer hacking and ransomware, what are you doing to protect yourself? Just before Memorial Day weekend, there was a pipeline hack that triggered panic buying and gas shortages — it compromised half of all gas, jet fuel and diesel to the east coast.

Cris Abbott runs MyTech Computer in Hagerstown and is familiar with the scams, such as getting an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be from, say, Microsoft.

“If they say you have so many problems on your computer,” Abbott said, “would you allow us to access remotely to show you, say ‘no,’ hang up the phone and block that phone number.”

These ransomware attacks can have far reaching consequences like tampering with the chemical controls at a water treatment plant in Florida right before the Superbowl weekend in Tampa. What’s to keep these scammers approaching you about getting into your bank account?

“Call your bank and make sure that they terminate that account if you’ve given them that banking information. Or at least make them aware of the circumstance,” Abbott explained.

Wayne Blevins depends on his computer for online transactions. He is aware of the recent hack into meatpacking operations affecting the nation’s food supply and the hospital that serves The Villages in Florida, America’s largest retirement community.

“I don’t leave my computer on when I’m hooked up to the internet unless I’m there working on it,” said Blevins. “That way it’s not available to anyone to get into it without me being there and seeing what’s going on.”

There was also a recent ransomware attack on the Washington, D.C. police department, and Baltimore City was paralyzed not long ago with a systems assault that crippled utility billing and compromised real estate assessments for tax records. Abbott advises taking every precaution you can.

“Changing your passwords on your email accounts or any bank account information is best,” Abbott recommended. “Anything that has personalized information of your own, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change the passwords to those accounts.”

Just as we start this new week, Boston’s mass transit system was crippled with a ransomware attack that disabled the processing of credit cards and boarding passes with magnetic strips or scanning codes.

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