Virginia Tech cybersecurity expert Eric Jardine says recent cyberattacks are an important reminder for internet users to practice regular digital hygiene in efforts to prevent future ransomware attacks. 

Quoting Jardine

"WannaCry points directly to why individuals and firms of all shapes and sizes need to update their software and operating systems. Far too many systemically important organizations, such as hospitals, are using no longer supported operating systems such as Microsoft Windows XP. WannaCry took advantage of that path dependency to devastating effect.”

"New survey results from the Centre for International Governance Innovation indicate that in prior ransomware attacks, 91 percent of those who paid actually regained access to their data. That is the slim silver lining to ransomware in general. The WannaCry attack is different, however, and is not configured in such a way as to allow the attacks to really know who is paying them for the keys. Users need to beware."

"At the end of the day, anyone can be affected by ransomware. The old motto, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, is hugely relevant here. Users, be they individuals on their laptops or multibillion dollar firms, need to think in terms of resiliency. Eventually, we will all get hacked. What matters is how we handle it when the worst case scenario happens. Users need to back up files and employ some basic digital hygiene so that they can minimize risk and bounce back from the inevitable."

About Jardine

Jardine is an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech and a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. His research focuses on various aspects of our new digital life, including the uses and abuses of the Dark Web, trends in cybercrime, how people’s use of email and other digital technologies affects cybersecurity, and the inherent politics of the public policy dilemmas surrounding both anonymity-granting technologies and encryption. 

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