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David McCabe May 16, 2017
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FTC's McSweeny on lessons learned from ransomware attack

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.