Atlanta isn't the only target. Turns out, your personal computer could be vulnerable to a ransomware attack.
"Once it's installed, the ransomware will go and encrypt portions of your disk that we typically contains your personal data," said Andrew Green, a cyber security researcher at Kennesaw State University.
Green explained that your personal photos, videos and documents could all be at risk in a ransomware attack.
"It is a cash grab, like what we're seeing with Atlanta," he added. "The ask is usually much lower because the scale is lower."
Hackers may ask for a few hundred dollars for a decryption key unlock to your personal data.
But giving in to their demands is risky.
"Either you'll pay and not get the decryption code at all, or you'll pay, and they'll send you a key that might not work," Green said.
Green suggested these three steps for guarding against a personal ransomware attack:
- Avoid downloading attachments, especially PDFs, that you don't expect or from someone you don't know.
- Think twice before you click on any links in e-mails. You can use your cursor to hover over the link to verify the address first.
- Don't rely on the cloud as your only backup, since even what you store on Google Drive and DropBox can be encrypted. Green suggests using an external drive to store and protect your personal data.