‘Not a matter of if, but when’: Ransomware attacks become increasingly common in Utah

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City’s FBI agents say roughly eight businesses’ become ransomware victims each week.

ABC4 News has reported on several high-profile ransomware attacks recently — the Colonial Pipeline, meat supplier JBS, and Kaseya hack infecting more than 1,500 organizations.

“It’s the number one problem. There is no doubt,” says Supervisory Special Agent Casey Harrington. “At this point, it is not a matter of if, but when.”

SSA Harrington heads up the Salt Lake City FBI Cyber Task Force. His office is working on 60 to 70 ransomware cases in the state.

“We’re getting five to eight per week of companies, you know, in this area calling us saying we’ve been hit,” he says.

Victims of ransomware attacks typically can’t access their computers until a message pops up.

“And it’s not just you, it’s the person sitting next to you and everyone down the hall. And it’s the whole company at that point that will know they are in big trouble,” says the agent.

The hacks are causing companies to lose thousands to millions of dollars.

The FBI is working with foreign and domestic partners to get ahead of these hackers.

“These ransomware attacks really are costing businesses and people’s lives a lot of heartache and dollars,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes tells us. “Ransomware has always been an issue, but of late there are even more sophisticated attacks.”

Hackers typically use cryptocurrency to process the ransom.

SSA Harrington adds, “The ransomware attackers will adjust their demand based on the size of the company. They go through the network, they know how big your company is, and what kind of revenue they may have, or what kind of business they are in.”

FBI SLC Supervisory Special Agent Casey Harrington

There are four things you can do to protect your business.

First, have a plan in case of an attack and how you will recover.

“These are happening so frequently now, and they are hitting organizations of every size,” says the special agent.

Second, educate employees on phishing.

“The number one way these attacks start is with an email with a malicious attachment or a link, and so employees are the number one place to start to stop the attacks,” says SSA Harrington.

There 4 You Tips

Third, have a working backup system.

“A lot of times what we see in this is people say, ‘oh we have a backup,’ but it is still on the network and attackers will encrypt or delete that back up so it is no good to you,” he adds.

Last, update your antivirus and malware software.

“It’s the standard things, but most companies aren’t doing them,” says SSA Harrington.

The FBI knows some ransomware attacks are not reported. To get ahead of these hackers they say you should report these crimes to the FBI and IC3.gov.

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