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Rebecca Zisser / Axios

With the so-called WannaCry ransomware attack "zipping around the world" and " some of the really interesting aspects of our cybersecurity debate," Federal Trade Commission Democrat Terrell McSweeny says there are some things consumers can do to protect their computers:

  1. Update your software so it incorporates recent security patches. That can mean turning automatic updates back on for many users. "If you've disabled that function, turn it back on and update your software package," McSweeny said during an interview for C-SPAN's "The Communicators" slated to run this weekend.
  2. Back up your data so you don't lose much if hackers hold it hostage. "Backing up your files [in] a reliable way, so that if your system is suddenly encrypted through a ransomware attack you still have another copy of all of that important personal information in a safe place that's disconnected from that computer so that you can recreate it and you're not dependent on that computer," McSweeny said.

When it comes to whether users should pay a ransom to retrieve their data, "generally in this situation with this attack, the advice has been not to pay it because you may not get your information back anyway."

Why it matters: WannaCry isn't the last time Americans will hear about ransomware, especially as it becomes a more common tool to attack connected devices in the Internet of Things.

On the FTC's role: McSweeny noted that global law enforcement agencies are looking into the attack, and that the FTC's role in responding to the worldwide story would likely be more about educating users. She said, however, that there was a hypothetical, broad situation in which a company that was attacked by ransomware but had lax data security could be the target of an FTC probe.

"You could say that if you were not adequately maintaining your cybersecurity hygiene as an organization, you fell victim to a ransomware attack or lost a lot of consumer information through a ransomware attack, that could actually give rise to FTC liability," she said.

A warning: "So if we're just relying on consumers and end users, then we will end up in situations where this kind of ransomware attack is able to exploit vulnerabilities that aren't patched," she said.

Companies take note: McSweeny also said that the WannaCry attack was a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity for corporate America. "I think it really underscores an important feature of this discussion, though, which is cybersecurity best practice is no longer a thing that lives in a Chief Information Security Officer role within an organization, it's something that should be understood at the highest levels of organizations and companies," she said.

Go deeper

Hollywood union reaches deal with studios to avert strike

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

A Hollywood workers' union reached a tentative deal with studios, networks and streamers that will guarantee better working conditions, meal breaks and increased wages for low-paid workers, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced Saturday night.

Why it matters: The deal, which still needs to be ratified by IATSE members, will avert a nationwide strike by film and television workers that was set to start Monday. It would have been the first strike in the union's 128-year history.

Bill Clinton released from hospital following treatment for non-COVID infection

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton was discharged from the University of California, Irvine Medical Center on Sunday, nearly a week after he was admitted for a non-COVID-related infection, according to his spokesperson Angel Ureña.

What they're saying: "His fever and white blood cell count are normalized and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics," wrote Dr. Alpesh Amin, who has been overseeing the team of doctors treating Clinton. "On behalf of everyone at UC Irvine Medical Center, we were honored to have treated him and will continue to monitor his progress."

Worth noting: Clinton had a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream, per CNN.

  • The California-based medical team had been administering IV antibiotics and fluids, and was in constant communication with Clinton's New York team, including his cardiologist, according to the former president's physicians.
  • President Biden spoke by phone with Clinton on Friday to see how he was doing, and the catch-up included a discussion of recent politics.
6 hours ago - Technology

TikTok drives new nostalgia economy

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Older brands, trends and technologies are making a comeback as younger consumers desperately chase slower, less chaotic times.

The big picture: TikTok's algorithm makes it easy for flashback items to resurface and quickly go viral both on its platform and eventually on other social networks.

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