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FERRIER FILES: Ransomeware attacks hit Tennessee

PHOTO: MGN

A giant worldwide attack of computers with something called ransomware is raising red flags for Tennesseeans.

It's something many of us knew very little about, but if you are a victim you will never forget.

“Typical morning turn on my computer and on my screen is a ransom note, literally, we have encrypted your files and you cannot get them unless you follow our instructions and pay us with bitcoin,” said Nashville Attorney Adam Dread. "I was flabbergasted."

Dread lost 3000 documents, 12,000 e-mails and 20,000 photographs. Lucky for him he has cloud back-up, but it shut down his office for three days.

“There is no key that will un-encrypt the data than they key they have,” said Wayne Adams of Night Technology. "Untraceable currency, transfer the money, and they give you the magic key to unlock your files."

Adams said a couple weeks ago at least a dozen Nashville businesses were hit with ransomware.

“It is actually all NSA hacker data that was stolen and published by a group that calls themselves The Shadow Brokers," Adams said.

Adams said ransomware crept onto the scene very quietly in 2009. Fast forward eight years, and it's not quiet anymore.

“Finally the one that is going to get everyone's attention and it's quite huge,” said Adams. "When it took down hospitals in England, and they could no longer admit patients; we are talking about life and death here."

Fighting back against ransomware

Make sure you have all the latest patches on your computer, and your anti-virus and anti-malware is current.

Use the cloud for backups. Don't open e-mails from people you don't know and don't go to random websites.

The other option is to pay the ransom to get back in.

“For the folks who don't think computer, imagine coming home and your house is locked,” said Adam Dread. "Nothing is stolen, but you have to pay to open your house up for you."

In Adams' case, it was about $300 dollars.

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