Hoosiers scrambling to avoid ransomware attacks

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — People across Indiana are scrambling for ways to avoid a new wave of cyber-attacks causing problems across the globe.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the list of U.S. victims is small but the hacks, which hold files hostage and pressure victims to pay hundreds of dollars, are not over yet.

Asher Collins, who runs Big Guys Signs in Indianapolis, said he felt “scared to death” when he heard about WannaCry.

“I was like, not again. I don’t want to go through that again,” Collins said.

He showed up to work January 12 and found all his files locked by ransomware similar to WannaCry. On each computer, a message demanded hundreds of dollars through an online currency called bitcoin to unlock the files.

Collins refused to pay and spent weeks rebuilding his business.

“They hit me hard man. It hurt. I’m still trying to dig out of the hole they put me in,” Collins said. “If you give in, they’re just going to keep doing it and they’re going to go at it even heavier.”

Collins beefed up his cybersecurity but he’s still worried he’ll fall victim to WannaCry. The new wave of ransomware demands hundreds of dollars via bitcoin within 72 hours.

Dan Ford, a forensic analyst for Rook Security in Carmel, said anyone who isn’t updating their Windows operating system is a potential target for WannaCry.

“It sucks, but it’s one of those things where you keep paying the ransom and they’re just not going to stop,” Ford said. “That’s the problem. People keep paying.”

Ford said Windows users can protect themselves by updating to the latest software. He said people should not click on any suspicious links, even if they look harmless, and everyone should regularly back up their files.

He said it’s unlikely police will catch the hackers because they often use advanced anonymous servers.

Collins now backs up his files off site and on site. He also unplugs his hard drive after the backup to make sure hackers can’t get in.

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