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Columns | Go Far With Kovar

Are ransomware attacks something new?

by Taylor Kovar

Hi Taylor: I'm hearing more and more about businesses and people getting hacked and it's starting to freak me out a little. Is this our new normal? Has it always been this bad and I'm only now hearing about it? - Tiffany

Hi Tiffany: Hacking and malware aren't novel problems, but you're definitely hearing about it more now than you used to. The problem is getting worse because, as security measures improve, the ransomware efforts seem to get smarter. It's also important for individuals to take preventative measures because these attacks happen all over the place, not just to big companies and government officials.

1. Simple but effective. If you read any of the details of the various attacks, whether on an individual or an organization, it almost always starts with a phishing email or post. Your account has been compromised or click this link to learn more. Once the target takes the bait, credentials are stolen and the criminal party can get to work on implementing whatever nefarious plan they've got. This is how the Colonial Pipeline hack happened. It's how the city of Baltimore was attacked back in 2019. It's how millions of people have their identity stolen every year. It's why we all need to be careful before we click.

2. Preventing hacks.
The individual is more susceptible to identity theft than an actual ransom effort, but we're all vulnerable to malware no matter what. Making sure your anti-virus software is updated frequently and you're not constantly opening emails from unknown senders is a good place to start. Beyond that, you just need to be as safe as possible and keep your information backed up. Computer technology advances by the minute, with protective software fighting to keep pace with the new practices of cybercriminals. At this point, we're all still catching up with the level of the threat.

3. Future of ransomware. There was never a question that people had the power to infiltrate networks and do devious things with sensitive information. The past year has laid bare the fact that many networks are no longer contained within an office space, but rather stretch as far as where the remote workers are. Shoring up internet defense systems becomes increasingly challenging with so many points of entry for hacking groups. As the best and brightest work on long-term solutions, our best safety resource is to have everyone act with caution. As long as everyone within a system makes smart choices, the rest of the team remains much safer.

Our wealth and safety are inextricably tied to our devices and the internet to which they connect. It can be a little overwhelming and scary if you give it too much thought, so the better choice is to be conscious of the threats and take whatever precautions you can. Good luck!

Taylor Kovar 5-31-21
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Legal Disclaimer: Information presented is for educational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. To submit a question to be answered in this column, please send it via email to Question@GoFarWithKovar.com, or via USPS to Taylor Kovar, 415 S 1st St, Suite 300, Lufkin, TX 75901.

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