FBI issues warning about Ransomware attacks after Midsouth organizations hit

WATCH: FBI issues warning about Ransomware attacks after Midsouth organizations hit

There are many dangers to worry about online. For businesses and governmental agencies one of the biggest is ransomware, which can cost them access to their digital information, including yours.

You may remember last July when Collierville was under a ransomware attack.

Related: Ransomware attack impacting Collierville, officials say

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The FBI said its happening more and more often to small municipalities. That's why they're issuing this warning.

"Generally speaking, if organizations do not have the most up-to-date software, or patching, or anti-virus/malware, they're going to be more vulnerable to these kinds of attacks. Most of those things require money or knowhow. Generally speaking smaller agencies or organizations are going to be at-risk,” explained Jeremy Baker, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Memphis Field Office.

So what is ransomware exactly?

"Essentially what it is malicious code or a program that criminals want to put on your computer to lock up your files, then just like the name implies, they won't necessarily unlock your files until you pay them for the access back to your files."

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Because the United States doesn't negotiate with terrorists, we asked Baker if it is it in the best interest of these businesses or these governmental entities to negotiate with these cyber terrorists.

"The official FBI policy is: we recommend people do not pay the ransom. Please call us. Please call the Secret Service. We will do our best to respond. We do have the decryption keys in some instances. Even if we don't, we are going to work vigorously to try to get their data unlocked,” he answered.

Collierville isn't the only Mid-South organization to be hit.

According to the Vermont Attorney General, Southern College of Optometry was hit in 2018.

Agent Baker explained that, like anything, prevention is key.

If your company or agency can afford the latest protections against malware and ransomware, that's the best bet - but there is something available at no cost.

"The main thing is; people just really need to think before they click. That's an old saying and we just keep saying it because we still see a majority of attacks happen because someone will click on a link, or will open an attachment, and that bad code is in that link or attachment."

"If you believe your business or municipality has been attacked by ransomware, the first thing  you should do is call law enforcement at the FBI."