Businesses hit with ransomware that appears to come from friend, coworker

Small businesses are being targeted in the latest ransomware scam to hit Hawaii, and that could affect your personal information.

“Dozens of small businesses in town, and even large ones that would rather not be identified, have been hit by malware that locks up their computer system,” said Greg Dunn, Better Business Bureau Hawaii’s CEO.

Dunn says businesses were targeted just within the last few weeks.

The ransomware scam works when someone clicks on an attachment or link that’s infected with a virus. It then disables the computer and lets the con artist hold the computer’s data hostage.

“The threat from the ransomware is if you don’t pay up you won’t have access to your files anymore,” Dunn said.

Dunn says even if you do pay up, there’s a chance you might not get your files back. That has the potential to put a lot of personal data at risk like credit card, social security numbers, and banking information.

What can make the scam tricky is often times, the infected link or attachment is disguised as coming from a friend or coworker.

“The biggest thing that people do that makes them very vulnerable and that they are doing wrong is they’re multitasking too much. They’re not paying attention to what they are clicking,” Dunn said.

The BBB advises businesses to invest in a reputable antivirus software program, and update your computer’s operating system to avoid leaving it vulnerable to an attack.

Businesses are encouraged to educate their employees about clicking on unfamiliar links and attachments, and back up your data frequently.

If you have a consumer concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or send an email to actionline@khon.com.

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