Expert: Awareness makes us less vulnerable to malware

A screen of an idle virus affected cash machine in a state-run OshchadBank says "Sorry for inconvenience/Under repair" in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)


ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Another massive cyberattack is made its rounds this week, working to steal your personal information.

Here’s how it works: Cyberattackers are taking over computers belonging to people or businesses and essentially holding the data hostage. When you try logging on, a malware message pops up saying you have been locked out and won’t be able to continue until you pay up. The ransom is usually for $300 in bitcoin, which is a form of digital payment.

It’s the second worldwide cyberattack in a little more than a month. This one targeted Ukraine and other parts of Europe and even hit a company in the United States.

24 Hour News 8 asked an expert at Grand Valley State University if computers in the U.S. are safe.

“I think for the most part we’re fairly safe. From the previous attack in May and this attack now, very few U.S. computers were infected,” GVSU Associate Director of Academic Services & Information Technology John Klein said.

Klein said last month’s attack was a call to action. Companies are taking more precautions to protect information.

“In the corporate world where you have many computers that you’re dealing with things like that, it becomes more imperative because the viruses can spread across the networks,” he said.

Though there are still gaps in security, Klein said U.S. companies are proactive in combating cyberattacks.

So is an attack in the United States imminent?

“There’s always the potential for something like that to happen, but again, being of aware of these things, keeping the systems up to date, makes us less vulnerable to those things,” Klein said.

To protect yourself, you should keep your system up to date.

“Remember the things that you want to protect. You want to protect your pictures, you want to protect your documents, you want to protect your home videos and things like that. In the corporate world, you also want to protect those documents,” Klein said.

He also advised backing important information up on an external hard drive.

And, of course, don’t open or click any links in an email you don’t recognize.