AUSTIN, TX (June 28) — Yesterday’s worldwide cyber attack marks the beginning of what could easily become a pattern of daily occurrences, said Chris Humphreys, director of The Anfield Group, an Austin-based cyber security firm.
“Known as Petya, this latest variant of ransomware plaguing computers around the world shows just how quickly these attacks can be duplicated and spread by hackers – even hackers with little more expertise than neighborhood amateurs,” Humphreys said.
Humphreys explained that when malware like Petya or last month’s troublesome WannaCry are released online, it doesn’t take long for hackers to figure out how to write and distribute new variants that are increasingly difficult to defend.
“Because so many different types of user-friendly malware are being developed almost on a daily basis, it is becoming a lot easier for people to declare themselves to be ‘hackers’,” Humphreys said. “The potential to extract ransom from victims ranging from everyday home computer users to billion-dollar corporations is hard for wanna-be cyber criminals to resist,” Humphreys said.
Humphreys warned that anyone who depends on a Microsoft Windows Operating System is a potential target for hackers using the latest variants of Petya. As a result, it is critical for Windows users to immediately install the latest patches provided by Microsoft. Of course, routine steps like regularly changing passwords and not opening suspicious email attachments are also essential.
“Personally, my biggest concern is that it will soon be much easier for hackers to develop and deploy new malware than it will be for vendors like Microsoft to create and release patches to address security issues created by the latest malware,” Humphreys concluded. “Once you fall behind in the battle to provide cyber security, it’s extremely difficult to catch up.”
In an interview on Austin’s KEYE-TV, Humphreys discussed the latest ransomware threat and offered suggestions on what personal computer users can do to reduce the chance of becoming a victim.