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HUESPAPER BY THE NEW HUE

Manila, Philippines

What is ransomware, and how can we counter it?



Personal data may be as simple as gathered raw and unprocessed materials containing an individual’s information. To some, it may even have no significant value. But what happens when personal data gets processed, organized, and structured to provide personal information about an individual, primed for assimilation and analyzing human behavior?


It is inarguable that we are all moving into the digital world and compassing through digital transformation, and there is no better time to dig deeper into the components involved in its operation than today. In plain language, if we still have no basic knowledge about the power of the features involved in this revolving world, we may be a little too late to guarantee survival.


Hence, The New Hue continues to provide a platform that embodies informative discussions that can be an aid in navigating the way towards shaping a better society and culture.


In the second episode of the Cybersecurity Awareness Podcast — Hue Should Know IT, Mix, H, and Mr. Redoble — one of the most credible and reliable sources of Information and Communication Technology in the country, discussed the extent of ransomware attacks that goes beyond money.


What is ransomware?

It is a file-encrypting malware that locks up a victim’s file or operating system, executed to demand a ransom from the victim in exchange for the decryption or restoration of data and files. In other words, attackers of cybersecurity illegally capture and encrypts user data to extort money and use gathered information against the victims.


“Our data is being locked, it’s being encrypted, and you need to pay for it to be unlocked,” H stated.


The dangers of ransomware go beyond money

As mentioned, ransomware attacks are typically carried out to extort money through a digital information hostage. However, matters more valuable than money can be at stake here — time and the lives of many.


Mr. Redoble stated that ransomware does not limit the disruption to technology but also the lives of people.


For example, when a healthcare organization or other institutions relying on electronic systems to operate and access customer or user data are hit by a ransomware attack, these institutions are then incapacitated to perform operations in providing services to the people. This disruption can cost more than just money, but also time and the way people live their everyday lives.


“How are you going to continue life, now that we are all reliable with our data?” H asked.


H added that some may still expel the magnitude of dangers brought by these attacks, but when you see through its impact, you start to question its implications on real-life scenarios, now that we are all embracing the digital world.


User responsibility, expanded threat landscape, and weakest link

IT professionals remain to carry responsibilities on ensuring safety measures to protect data and operating systems. However, cybersecurity attackers are eager to penetrate all levels of security defense — this is where user responsibilities take place as we all are being targeted by the hackers and susceptible to the dangers of the supply chain brought by these attacks.


Mr. Redoble stated that as users, we all have the responsibility to protect and secure our accounts, assets, and gadgets.


“This is because of the expanded threat landscape,” Mr. Redoble explained that in circumstances wherein attackers fail to get through the big target, in this case, could be an enterprise, they then march on to the ‘weakest link’ which is the user, for, in this strategy, they have higher chances of successfully victimizing the target.


The human actors or the users are considered the weakest link in cybersecurity. Most users are vulnerable as they inherent unpredictability, and attackers can quickly analyze humans’ psychological behaviors and flaws and are prone to commit more errors than a machine.


Ecosystem

As H and Mr. Redoble mentioned, these attackers have a supply chain, a full-blown ecosystem.


Cybersecurity threats are greatly motivated by either profit or ideology. Thus, the people behind these operations have already built a complete ecosystem comprising diverse sectors and participants to ensure successful attacks against cybersecurity.


What is the best approach?

These attacks can be countered by verifying every email, text message, or call before granting information to the other end.


As explained in the previous episode of Hue Should Know IT, there is no better defense against these cyberattacks than to become paranoid, acknowledge responsibilities, question and verify everything.


H and Mr. Redoble reiterated the importance and advantages of paranoia in this digital world as all our online activities could be monitored and analyzed in a manner suitable to fit the needs of the hackers to operate such hideous attacks.


“You are actually being targeted in such a way that you are profiled, based on your activity online,” H added.


Backing up important files in an external drive can also be helpful to avoid hackers encrypting your files online. Though there are still circumstances wherein hackers were already able to encrypt files even before one had the opportunity to back up the files. In this case, encrypted files are being backed up, and all it takes is the perfect timing to perform the ransomware attack. Hence, it is really vital to verify all your files before backing them up.


Mr. Redoble added that another approach could be to use a separate device solely intended to store important files and then another device for all the other online activities. This strategy can minimize the impact of security breaches.


As Mix, H, and Mr. Redoble discussed in the podcast, these ransomware attacks cost more than just money. Its disastrous effects can transcend the lives of many. Moreso, as H mentioned, “It has a bigger impact on the economy.”


To end this, Mr. Redoble reminds us that “We have created a world that we haven't learned to secure yet,”


Indeed, it is time for us to educate ourselves on the importance and impact of cybersecurity now that we live in this digital age.



Hue Should Know IT: Cybersecurity Awareness Podcast is live every Monday, at 630PM, on The New Hue’s Facebook page. You can also download and listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and other digital streaming platforms.


Be part of the conversation. No IT background is required. Be a HUE in this society.


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