Digital kidnappers on the loose
Last month, when a medical centre in Los Angeles had no choice but to pay a ransom of $17,000 to regain access to its IT system, the warning bells were still ringing around the cyber world.
In fact, whistles began to blow across the globe on 'ransomware' quite some time ago. With an impending epidemic at hand, it is no longer a sideline concern.
Ransomware is a malware and it spreads across computers in the guise of most innocent files. One click on the malicious mail, file or link and cyber criminals can take over your PC or system, encrypt all your data, and ask for a ransom to pay to get the data back or regain access to the system.
Does an antivirus software protection help? Yes, some do, to a certain extent. At least for the known variations till date of these intrusions, but not for the latest variants popping up every now and then.
We are still investigating a digital bank robbery. And sadly enough, we are already raising flags on digital kidnapping.
That is the reality in the cyber security world. Unfortunately, the criminals in the cyber world are worse than in the real world. There is a cyber crime happening every moment in the cyber world. They come in various forms and views. Many just become an epidemic and criminals around the cyber space pick up on the threads of these epidemics to make it even bigger. The cyber crime industry is an extremely profitable one with billions in transactions. Just right now, ransomware happens to be the trendy serial crime.
Just imagine -- you walk into your office tomorrow morning to find that you cannot access your computers. All your data is inaccessible. And some joker is demanding a ransom to release your entire system. God forbid. Let's not even think of the consequences to follow. But the threat lurks out there and anyone or any institution can be the next victim.
Ransomware has already been detected in Bangladesh and the detection rate is getting bigger.
As an initial line of defence, it is highly advised to take regular backup of data so that a system could be restored and to totally avoid opening any file, link, site or mail that is not known.
Practising safety is the foremost solution to cyber crimes. Criminals want us to give in. If we can avoid letting them into our system, we can stay safe to a large extent.
It is high time we started educating on and promoting cyber security. Knowing and understanding the threat is important, before creating the defence line. The government and the media need to give this a serious thought.
The author is the chief executive officer of Officextracts.