Harrisburg cyber security expert weighs in on international ransomware attack

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hundreds of thousands of computers were hacked in 150 countries on Friday.

People’s information was held for ransom. That includes a few companies in the U.S., including FedEx.

In central Pennsylvania, there haven’t been reports of anyone affected by the ransomware, known in this case as “WannaCry”, but experts tell ABC27 this kind of attack is not over.

Harrisburg University’s cyberattack expert, ironically named Andrew Hacker, spoke with ABC27.

“I might have actually gotten a few jobs here and there because of my last name,” Hacker said.

He said the attack on Friday impacted computers with older versions of Microsoft Windows.

“The device gets infected with this malware,” Hacker said, “and that malware can find all of that computer’s important personal files and encrypts them and holds them ransom.”

In this case, the malware asked for $300 to $600 to recover important files.

“It’s always an ongoing battle,” Hacker said. “Certainly how widespread it was, how many countries and companies and people were affected is what makes this one pretty scary.”

It’s also scary because of who it affected: hospitals in the United Kingdom.

Hospitals in the Midstate say they’re protected.

Geisinger Holy Spirit released the following statement: “We have sophisticated information security measures in place to defend against malware. Our Information Technology (IT) team takes data security very seriously and uses intrusion detection alerts.”

Hershey Medical says they added additional safeguards in response to Friday’s attack.

“With more and more connected devices, the potential negative impact on something like this grows all the time,” Hacker said.

For the future, Hacker says back up everything important, such as documents and photos. He says it’s necessary to update software and anti-viruses as much as they’re offered.

He also advises anyone who is ever hacked and asked for money, to never pay it.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet.

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