Companies and governments are still reeling from Friday’s WannaCry Ransomware Attack. We’re all now well familiar with computer viruses and such, but many folks had still never heard of ransomware until this weekend. That’s a program a hacker slips into a computer system which shuts it down, only allowing it to be reopened upon payment of ransom. Its been in practice now for a couple of years, but only recently has it gained more notice. Friday’s breakout however, was the largest single event by far.
Imagine for a moment, you turn on your personal computer or that of your business, only to get a message that unless you pay up, all your data will be removed. Not a good way to start the day. Sad thing is, it can happen to any of us. The best defense is to keep your computer updated with all the various patches that come out through the year. Also use a good anti-virus and firewall software suite. They aren’t expensive, and they provide good insurance. Also, be smart. Don’t open an email that looks suspicious, even if it comes from a trusted email address. If the body of the email simply contains a link with no other commentary, and especially if you see dozens of other names in the address bar, think twice before clicking on the link.
The Wannacry ransomware attack is just one more example of how quickly our information systems can be brought down. There is still a lot of talk about another wave coming behind this one. The world economy runs on information moved about via the internet, and if servers and companies using it get held hostage, it could set off a chain of events that lead to a downward spiral. It wouldn’t take much. All the more reason to have a plan in place. Keep some cash on hand (in a safe hidden place and not just in a bank safe deposit box), some precious metals as well as other commodities that could be used for bartering if the financial system should find itself held hostage. What kind of commodities? Things like long term food items, diapers, ammunition, cigarettes, batteries, seeds, matches, or candles are just a few items that others could consider very valuable. If you have a skill such as working a garden, growing and harvesting chickens or rabbits, or small engine repair those skills could be traded for other goods. I know it sounds crazy when all we have to do is order take out from Pizza Hut or purchase whatever we want from Amazon, but the experts agree that ransomware and cyber attacks are here to stay and are only going to get more serious. So be prepared.