What To Know About the Latest Ransomware Attack in Texas

Last week, Texas was hit with a ransomware cyberattack. Texas State officials have confirmed that a total of 22 municipalities have had their computer systems infiltrated and compromised.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is an umbrella term for a group of viruses that hold your files and data hostage– either by encrypting your data (similar to putting a lock on them) so that they’re unreadable or by locking you out of your computer altogether.

In this attack, hackers have been asking for $2.5 million to unlock the files on the computers of one of the cities. FixMeTip: We recommend never paying after a ransomware attack. Here’s why.

How This Happened

In this case, the hacker sent a seemingly benign email with malicious links and attachments. Once the unsuspecting target clicked on the link or attachment, the ransomware was then able to infect a computer system and spread throughout the network.

Other popular ways of tapping into government networks and personal computers are through remote desktop systems. This allows the attacker to establish a connection to your computer via an internet connection and take control of your system.

How To Protect Yourself From Ransomware

Sometimes, businesses and individuals have no other option for restoring their files than paying the ransom demanded by hackers. For example, in Lake City, Florida, officials paid $460,000 in bitcoin using insurance and taxpayer money.

To protect yourself from ransomware, consider backing up your files as we described in last week’s blog – Should You Back Up Your Computer? This will create an extra copy of all your files so even if hackers put a lock on your computer, you can still access the backup copy and discard the original ones.

And of course, you can always use run an antivirus program like McAfee and use your FixMeStick to protect yourself. Note the FixMeStick will not be able to remove the lock on your files, but it can remove the ransomware virus for you.

8 comments

  1. Marie - Reply

    I have windows 7 what I don’t
    Understand even when windows
    Stops 2020 does that mean I
    Have to but windows 10 and pay
    To install?

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi Marie, we’ve written a blog about this topic, you can read it here. Basically, your Windows 7 computer would still work, but you will not get any security updates on it.

  2. Anonymous - Reply

    I already have Mcafee and FixMeStick stick and windows defender, what else do I need to do ?

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi there, having McAfee and FixMeStick is a great start. We also recommend staying vigilant and never open suspicious attachments in emails from unknown senders. Always be sure to check the sender’s address before you open an email to make sure it is not an impersonator.

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi Jeanne, if you are on a Windows computer, perhaps this guide from Microsoft could help. You can find it here.

  3. Anonymous - Reply

    I was under the impression of you did get ransom ware the fix me stick would remove it , now you say it can’t remove the lock on it does that mean you can’t have your computer back as it was ?

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi there, you are right about FixMeStick not removing the lock on your files. Similar to how you may use a password to login onto your computer, ransomware viruses may put a password on your files to lock them up. FixMeStick is not a decoding device so it will not help you find the password to unlock these files, but it can help remove the ransomware virus.

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