Triad cybersecurity expert addresses recent hacks of companies, shares tips on how to avoid being hacked

Piedmont Triad News

(WGHP) — How safe is your computer and your security systems?

There have been two major ransomware attacks in the country in just the past month.

Experts told FOX8 they think more are on the horizon.

“Let’s see how much damage we can create, what we can do to disrupt the economy. So, they go after big things, big companies. Because the bigger they are, the more they affect everybody,” said Ron Pierce, the president of Trinity Solutions, a Triad-based IT and cybersecurity team.

Everyone in the Piedmont has seen some impact, since May 6, when the Colonial Pipeline was hacked, causing gasoline shortages.

Three weeks later, one of the world’s largest meat manufacturers shut down after their own ransomware attack.

It’s a string of incidents that could spotlight what’s to come.

“I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There seems to be so many people in the world that are so knowledgeable and know how to do this,” said Julie Taylor, a Greensboro resident. “I think we’re just a few steps away from bank accounts getting hacked on a daily basis or credit card companies getting hacked.”

“It’s inevitable,” Teresa DeWitt said. “Something much more serious [is coming], than losing gas for a week.”

Pierce told FOX8 everyone needs to be prepared because these hackers mean business.

“On the dark web, there are places that people can go. [They can] actually purchase software that allows them to set up the scams, and set up the fake emails we all get,” he said. “Normally, that would cost them maybe $2,000. The return on that investment is usually somewhere between $20-40,000 for someone who’s getting hit by that ransomware.”

It’s the trickle-down effect Pierce is most concerned with.

“Any business that gets hit by the ransomware would affect their business and would affect their expenses,” he said. “So, what are they going to do? They’re going to try and recoup their losses. Who pays for that? It’s going to be the average person.”

“You definitely see gas prices are going up as a result of that,” Taylor said.

While it may be a payday for the criminals, it could mean the end of the line for business owners, who could be forced to make a tough decision on whether to pay the hackers or pay to redo their entire systems.

Pierce said it’s not an easy call to make.

“It’s not just I’m going to lock your files. It’s I’m going to take you hostage. I’m going to put your data up in the cloud so that I can release it to whoever I want,” he said. “I’m going to make your life miserable. Sometimes it just is cheaper to pay the ransom.”

On the low end, all of that that could run between $30-50,000.

The fear of a data breach and the costs have prompted some people to make some necessary changes.

“I’ve changed a lot of passwords that I think I was using too many similar passwords, too long having that same password in place,” DeWitt said.

Pierce told FOX8 that changing passwords, having two-factor logins, and up-to-date security systems can really help anyone on any computer defend themselves.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

MOST POPULAR

get the app

My FOX8 News App

Follow FOX8 on Twitter