April 1, 2016 by

United States & Canada Issue Joint Ransomware Alert

In a joint statement today, the United States and Canada issued a rare collaborative cyber alert against ransomware, following the surge of ransomware-related incidents in recent times.

The joint warning comes following reports from several cybersecurity firms who have insisted that the ransomware crisis will worsen before it gets better in the near future. This is because the proper security measures and protocols haven’t been adopted by businesses and firms, while hackers grow more sophisticated in their means to spread ransomware.

Strains of ransomware-malware have frequently targeted individuals in the past but have recently come to a head while targeting businesses and government agencies. The most publicized ransomware attacks in recent times are those which struck hospitals and police departments.

The two governments, through the US Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre stated:

Infections can be devastating to an individual or organization, and recovery can be a difficult process that may require the services of a reputable data recovery specialist.

The alert added that the consequences of ransomware attacks includes the disruption of regular operations, loss of sensitive and/or proprietary information, harm to a victim’s reputation and expenses to restore access to targeted computer systems.

Crucially, the alert made its intentions clear about the official opinion from governments when it comes to the ransom itself. In no uncertain terms, the governments discouraged victims from paying malicious hackers to restore access to their data. The alert stated:

Paying the ransom does not guarantee the encrypted files will be released. It only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim’s money, and in some cases, their banking information.

The alert follows another recent bulletin alert put out by the FBI, issued on March 25. The alert focused on a particular strain of ransomware called JBOSS which was actively targeting entire networks of computers rather than individual computers. LIFARS reported the alert came with a plea, with the FBI seeking help from security researchers and businesses to provide any information relating to the ransomware.

Within the last few months alone, several hospitals including one in Hollywood, Los Angeles and another in the Baltimore-Washington area have been targeted in successful ransomware attacks.

Image credit: Wikimedia.

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LIFARS is a digital forensics and cybersecurity intelligence firm based in New York City. LIFARS is ranked as one of the top Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations companies in 2016 and as one of the top cybersecurity companies in the New York metropolitan area for 2015 on the Cybersecurity 500 – a directory of the hottest and most innovative companies to watch in the cybersecurity industry.

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