Ransomware Attacks Hit House of Representatives

18 May

An increasing number of ransomware attacks is an unfortunate trend as we move into the second half of 2016, and they have needled everyone in the public and private sectors. Most recently, the House of Representatives has issued warnings to its employees regarding third party website interaction on its computers and associated technology. What does this mean for the government at large as it slowly meanders into the cyber age, and how have other companies already begun to accept the changes that need to be made in order to stop these treacherous ransomware attacks before they start?

Here are the facts: recently the House of Representatives sent out notices from its technology services desk regarding employee use of third party websites when it is through government computers or other machines. Sites as popular as Gmail or YahooMail are going to be blocked in order to curtail the occurrence of any ransomware attacks. Though the House Chief Administration Officer declined to divulge details regarding a ransomware attack, it seems that one did occur in late April due to a House of Representatives employee clicking on an infected link. Unfortunately that’s all it takes for a ransomware attack to take hold of your network and lock its contents until the “ransom” is paid via bitcoin.

Some see these measures as extreme – one app founder, Ted Henderson, stated that it was “irresponsible” for the House of Representatives to take a stance that essentially blocks an avenue of free speech. However, that isn’t the argument within this particular piece: in actuality, focus should be placed on the points before the ransomware attack occurs and not after. What cyber security education is in place throughout the government? Are their networks and servers really that secure, or do we blindly assume that the government has the best cyber security plan? Obviously these are hard questions to answer but judging from President Obama’s most recent cyber security pledge, it seems that not only is the government keen on creating a better technological realm for itself and its employees, but that it wants to set an example for the rest of the country.

Overall, ransomware attacks can happen anywhere, to anyone and at any time – cyber security education is paramount for everyone, employees and private citizens alike, in order to quash these malicious attacks before they are able to take control of sensitive and protected data.