The United States Congress has become the primary target for ransomware attacks. The House IT department released this information in an email that stated “the House Information Security Office has seen an increase of attacks on the House Network using a third-party, web-based mail applications such as Yahoo Mail, Gmail, etc. The department also issued a temporary access ban to Yahoo Mail in the House network until further notice. But despite their efforts, the ransomware had already infected at least one computer.
The goal for this particular attack was to put “ransomware” on computers used by members of the House. Furthermore, the hackers used a phishing strategy to generate an email that appears to be from Yahoo. Each email sent included a link or used .js file attached as a zip file that contained malware. After an anonymous congressional staffer accidently opened the malware, all files were encrypted on the recipient’s computer — including files shared with other staff members. Fortunately, an IT staffer was able shut down and reformat the computer within 20 minutes of the attack.
Yahoo quickly responded to the hack with this statement; “We are collaborating closely with House IT staff to ensure that they have the right solutions in place to best protect their accounts.” However, the IT department still holds Yahoo accountable for the ransomware attacks. At the present, the House IT department appears to be tightening up cybersecurity even more than ever before. In fact, staffers are have taken steps, such as temporarily banning YahooMail, to prevent all further attacks. Their plan is to put other mitigating protections in place so that they could restore full access as soon as possible.
In addition to the attacks on Congress, NBC News reported that many police departments, hospitals, and large business sectors are becoming targeted by hackers — which, like Congress, maintain sensitive information within their network. According to the Internet Security Threat Report, there was a 300-percent increase with over the approximately 1,000 ransomware attacks per day in 2015. With future attacks brandishing new capabilities, ransomware attacks are viewed as more disruptive than traditional cyberattacks.
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