HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – Cyberattacks are on the rise, and Attorney General Todd Rokita is striving to prevent Hoosiers from falling victim to these scams.

Officials with Rokita’s office states ransomware has become one of the most popular cyberattack techniques. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks a victim’s data or device and threatens to keep it locked.

Sometimes, the cybercriminal even demands the victim pay a ransom to have their data unlocked. According to Statista, more than 493 million ransomware attacks occurred in 2022.

Officials also state scammers are always developing new ransomware variants. By the time a variant is known, new ransomware malware comes along, and officials say since July 2023, the FBI has noticed multiple ransomware attacks being launched near another attack – these are also known as “double ransomware attacks.” 

“You can have your entire online presence hijacked through phishing, brute force, or other manipulative tactics,” Rokita said. “Once they’ve hacked your data or device, criminals can encrypt your files and steal everything you’ve worked hard to protect.” 

Officials say after this attack, another ransomware malware is often launched on the victim’s system. Then, they can demand ransom payments from companies and individual users to “fix” the problem or return the stolen data. 

“October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and we’re all susceptible to this type of crime,” Rokita said. “The more we use technology, the more we are at risk. Businesses, schools, and individuals should be aware of hackers.”

Rokita’s office and the FBI suggest the following tips to stay safe from ransomware attacks:

  • Backups – Data and systems need to be backed up regularly. Businesses should keep a copy offline isolated in air-gap systems (not connected online).
  • Encryption – All data needs to be encrypted. That includes data that is being stored or data that is in transit. All data must also be protected against modifications or deletions.
  • Third parties – Your systems may be top of the line, but if you outsource digital services to third parties, such as cloud providers or password managers, you must make sure they have a strong ransomware cybersecurity strategy in place.
  • Ant-malware solutions – Trusted anti-malware software is critical to detect phishing attempts, malicious files, links or websites, and any malware that might breach your first layers of security. Anti-malware solutions can rapidly flag, alert, shut down and remove ransomware malware before they can do any damage.

If one believes that a ransomware hacking attempt was conducted, one is asked to contact Attorney General Rokita’s staff by visiting gov/attorneygeneral or calling 1-800-382-5516. One may also report suspected cybercriminal scams to the FBI at www.ic3.gov.