Blake Dowling: Pulling the plug on Russian hackers

Hacking Russia concept with hand wearing black leather glove
We need more fast-acting heroes to jump in when disaster knocks on our virtual doors.

Hackers have repeatedly attacked hospitals, and there have been instances where hackers have not just stolen information but also put lives at risk.

If a hospital’s systems are frozen, they cannot roll ambulances, check-in patients, read charts to administer care and all other functions.

Most hospitals have robust cyber defenses, but even the best protection can be overcome, as we have seen frequently.

In Florida, a hospital recently went old-school when ransomware knocked on its door.

What did they do? They yanked the cord ASAP.

Sounds pretty low-tech? It is. Can it slow the attack down? Most likely.

Job well done IT expert Jamie Hussey, who works at Florida’s Jackson Hospital right down the road in Marianna.

Jamie is becoming famous — and a poster boy for the war on hackers.

Suppose you are that unfortunate person who clicked a bogus threat-embedded email — and working fast enough — you might avoid bringing your office to a complete standstill.

If you see a message that looks off, saying “your files are encrypted” or other devious messages, yank the cord. You might stop the hack in its tracks, and maybe no one will know you clicked an email that said, “I saw these pix from last night,” or “ click here to verify your American Express number,” or “enter your password to confirm your password.”

Remember, don’t click emails from people you do not know (the childhood lesson “stranger danger” applies to tech), and confirm emails from people you do know. Do not click.

Hackers rely on email attacks to pay their rent.

Speaking of hackers, the world may have just gotten a little safer from them.

Have you heard of the REvil ransomware gang? And note to self, it’s probably not a good idea to get arrested in Russia; the FSB (former KGB) does not play. In fact, their statement to the world is that this gang has “ceased to exist.”

Video footage of these arrests is now available.

For years, the world has accused the Russian government of harboring cyber gangs (and employing them in some alleged cases). And for years, the Russians have said they do not, although there was always lots of info pointing to the motherland for these nefarious actions.

Dive into that world here.

Well, the REvil gang was shut down, arrests made, assets seized — that is a big win for the good guys.

I can’t help but think it was for show, but it appears to be a legitimate bust. There are many cyber gangs worldwide, but REvil was an especially devious bunch as they froze your files with their malware and asked for ransom to give you the encryption keys to get it back. But they also threatened to post your files on the internet if you did not pay. Double extortion, if you will.

You can follow their rampage here.

The best case in this global collaboration between our nation and Russia is that it’s a massive step in the right direction for the cyberwar we are all fighting (whether you know it or not, you are involved). In the worst case, six more gangs will take REvils place.

We will see how serious Mr. Putin is, and we need more fast-acting heroes like Jamie Hussey to jump in when disaster knocks on our virtual doors.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and the writer of “Professionally Distanced.” Watch his latest Biz & Tech podcast with musician Charlie Mars here: Music, Songwriting, and Storytelling with Charlie Mars — YouTube. You can reach Blake to talk football or 80s metal here: [email protected].

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at www.aegisbiztech.com


3 comments

  • Anne Coppenhaver

    January 22, 2022 at 9:54 am

    I don’t know what “yank the cord” means! Please put this in terms that an ordinary person would understand so we will know what to do if we are hacked. Thanks.

    • Blake Dowling

      January 22, 2022 at 4:25 pm

      Pulling the plug means; unplugging the network cable that goes from your computer to the wall. If you think you have been infected by something this is a good first step. If you are on wireless pulling the power cord is also accomplishing the same thing. There are no guarantees this will stop the spread of ransomware and not all cyber threats will spread but this will give you time to get the device to a professional for a thorough review. Also, make sure you have a backup of your data and cyber protections in place. Be safe out there.

      • Anne Coppenhaver

        January 24, 2022 at 8:32 am

        Got it! Thanks much.

Comments are closed.


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