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Thinking of clicking that link? One expert says double check

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(WBNG) -- In the wake of the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, much of the focus has been on gas prices and long lines at the pump.

But what about the actual cyber attack? Could it happen to you? One local expert says it's more common than you think.

Tal Sela is the senior I.T. administrator at Triple Cities Network Solutions and explains ransomware as an attack in which data is stolen from a computer, encrypted and then held for financial gain.

"Ransomware is a business. [The threat actors are] trying to make money, and they will try anything they can," he says.

Oftentimes, ransomware can present itself in the form of emails, slow networks, and encrypted files.

Emails are a cost-effective hack, and with just a click, the ransomware can take over networks, servers and computers without you even noticing.

"It depends on the ransomware. There are some that lock your computer pretty much immediately and you can't work on it," Sela says. "But there is some ransomware that is more for the long-run. So [threat actors] will try to gain access to more and more servers, more and more computers so you see it a month later and say, 'hey, I have an intrusion.'"

Sela says the best solution to this issue is user education. He encourages people to double-check any emails, links, or websites that seem out-of-the-ordinary before clicking, and verifying where emails are coming from. Sela also says strong security settings like complex passwords and spam filters can help protect your computer and your data.

"You're the first line of defense," he says. "Just be vigilant about what you click and what you enter into your computer."

If you suspect you are the victim of a ransomware attack, Sela advises you to turn off your computer immediately to disrupt the communication between the hack and the threat actor. You can then call I.T. companies, like TCNS, to help get protection services.

Cal Dymowski

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