FBI Issues Ransomware Warning, Data Security Call-to-Action Continues

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a time to promote the importance of cybersecurity and last week the FBI kicked-off the month with a with a Public Service Announcement (I-100219-PSA) entitled: High-Impact Ransomware Attacks Threaten U.S. Businesses and Organizations.

 In the PSA, the FBI explains that "ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts files on a victim's computer or server, making them unusable. Cyber criminals demand a ransom in exchange for providing a key to decrypt the victim’s files." 

The agency warns that ransomware attacks "are becoming more targeted, sophisticated, and costly." Although the overall frequency of ransom attacks remains consistent, or by some measures has declined, losses from ransomware attacks have increased dramatically. 

The announcement includes details of how ransomware works, how businesses affected by an attack should respond, ways to protect an institution from ransomware attacks, and cyber defense best practices.

NCSAM is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.

NCSAM 2019 is emphasizing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and in the workplace. The overarching message – Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT. – focuses on key areas including citizen privacy, consumer devices, and ecommerce security.

The NCSAM website offers a variety of promotional materials, tips and suggested activities for individuals and businesses. The U.S. Department of Justice’s “Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting of Cyber Incidents” offers self-protection strategies as well.

CUNA and the state leagues continue to press Congress to establish a national data security standard that subjects all entities with access to personal financial data to the same privacy protections as financial institutions under the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act, and holds any entity found responsible for a data breach liable for the resulting card reissuing and fraud costs.    

Stopping the data breaches is the subject of CUNA’s latest Member Activation Program (MAP) campaign launched in August to activate credit union members to call on their members of Congress to act.

Individuals can also visit the CUNA/League-system’s Stop the Data Breaches website where they can easily email their Capitol Hill lawmakers to encourage them to act.

With more than 10,000 breaches compromising more than 12 billion consumer records since 2005 alone, what better time could there be to contact Congress on this issue than during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month?