An outpour of ransomware attacks in recent times has drawn out many discussions on the measures to prevent and control them. Increasing awareness regarding the nature and mechanism of ransomware is the point which is being reiterated at any forum where the topic of discussion is this prevalent cyber threat.
Many digital security specialists including David Hickton are of the thought that awareness is the first line of defense against ransomware attacks. Hickton is the founding director of Institute of Cyber Law, Policy and Security at the University of Pittsburgh. In the Obama-era, he also served as the Federal Attorney. In the wake of Atlanta’s ransomware attack, he thinks awareness must be the top most priority of municipal systems all across the country to stop ransomware attacks.
According to him, every network of public administration will remain vulnerable to the threat of ransomware attacks because technological challenges and human behavior simultaneously come into play in such cases. For instance, local governments don’t spend sufficient resources on streamlining their cyber security. Although now all of their daily errands are carried out through computers and online systems, but still the corresponding network security is not competent enough.
Similarly, majority of workforce of local administrations is not tech savvy and don’t even have the acquaintance with phishing attacks and other such social engineering tactics of cyber attackers. Both of these factors encourage ransomware operators to target such networks.
There is another catch for ransomware operators to target public networks. With unvarying dealing in public records, municipal systems can’t afford to have extended downtimes. This means they will be pushed to pay the attackers to restore ransomware files. Otherwise, they have to get the services of professionals for ransomware removal.
Hickton thinks that by increasing awareness among their workforce and by implementing strict rules regarding cyber hygiene, municipal systems can ensure they are not going to become a hostage to ransomware operators.
Experts also advise against the payment of extortion money to the attacker for ransomware removal because it can give them confidence to target vulnerable networks of the same nature.
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