Just before 6:00 AM on Friday, March 25th (Good Friday), Jeri (my spouse) and I were startled awake by our phone. It was one of our neighbors calling to let us know that he had found Jeri’s work badge and keys on the sidewalk in front of his house while walking his dog earlier in the morning. Jeri had worked late the night before coming home from conferences at around 9:00 PM. However, she inadvertently didn’t pull the van all the way into the garage. As she would normally do, she closed the garage door as she went into the house for the night. The garage door did begin to close. But, it hit the van’s bumper before coming to a complete close and it went back up. So, our garage door was open all night with her purse in van. Someone noticed the open door and made off with her purse during the night. Aside from a handful of fraudulent charges (all for gas – which were easily mitigated), the damage was not bad. Luckily, Jeri did not carry other sensitive documents liker her Social Security card or have anything with that number on it in her purse. So, the threat of a full blown identity theft is pretty low. But, this event got me thinking about security more globally.
The big take-away from this piece is that the criminals are indeed way ahead of everyone else. Both law enforcement and private security companies the provide solutions really don’t have anyway (right now) to combat this type of threat. The only way to prevent or avoid a ransomware crime right now is to avoid it all together. Nearly all of the time these crimes use social engineering exploits to get in the door and infect computers. Usually this is done with a phishing email that someone opens (believing the email to be from someone they know) and infects their computer.
Last week Lori Pleiness sent out an article to the staff at Prairie Ridge that does a nice job of summarizing some best practice thinking/habits regarding phishing email and security. I would strongly recommend taking a couple of minutes to review this resource. Be sure to filter this type of thinking into your personal life as well. If your personal computer is infected with a ransomware virus, your only option to recover (at least at this time) will be to pay the ransom. So, following these types of habits will not only protect Prairie but your personal data as well.