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Never Pay Ransoms - Two Free Things You Can Do to Stop Ransomware

Craig Peterson - America's Leading CyberSecurity Coach

Release Date: 05/18/2021

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[A quick, automated transcript of my conversation with Jim Polito on WTAG, WHYN, and WHJJ on 2021-05-18]

Good morning, everybody. Craig Peterson here. I was on with Mr. Polito this morning, and we went through the colonial pipeline and why you don't want to pay a ransom. And then I went into the things you can do for free. That'll give you 90%, maybe a little higher protection. So some websites to go to some things to do on a windows computer.

So it went a little deeper, I think, than I usually. Go into, but I think a lot of great info. So here we go with Mr. Polito. 

If I ever got hacked, ransomware, whatever there's one guy had called, not the Ghostbusters. I would call our tech talk guru and good friend, Craig Peterson, who joins us every week at this time.

Good morning, sir. 

Hey, good morning, Mr. Jim. 

Craig, why don't you just say, I told you so because they, it looks like colonial paid the $5 million ransom, the stories I'm reading say that then the Russian hackers gave them the key to fix the encryption, and it didn't work. And then they eventually figured it out themselves.

Am I correct? Yeah. 

Yeah. That's pretty much what happened.

 Brilliant guy because that's called colonial pipeline. So you said, and you have said many times before, the easiest way to get yourself in the crosshairs of a cyber hacker, ransomware criminal is to pay the ransom. Then you have painted a bullseye on your back.

Why don't you tell us about that? 

Yeah, we have a whole country thing. You might remember. There was an organization called the United States Navy. And the United States Marine Corps. And you remember, the Marine Corps Anthem, right? 

Oh yeah. From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, the barber.

Okay. And why did they form the Marine Corps? Why did the Navy come to be? It came to be in both cases to protect our merchants, our merchant leads; we were having some problems with some alumnus back 250 years ago. And we sent our Marines over. In fact, the whole thing about leather neck comes from that same period.

So they wouldn't get their heads chopped off. I hate to talk about that, but we've been facing this—type of thing, extortion as a country forever. And now we've got president and Biden out there. Know  I'm trying to do a hairy imitation. There might've been the Russians, but it wasn't the Russians; it wasn't Putin.

At this point, it seems very obvious that because of dark by the way, who shut themselves down over the weekend, along with two other major ransomware operations, it looks like they were at the very least under the protection of the Russian government. So they go out, and who do they want to target?

It used to just go out there, spray and pray. See who you can find now it's, let's go after the people with the bigger pockets, as much as we can, at least these professional groups of which of course are present, colonial or act by. But these professional groups now go after people.

Now, who are they going to go after? They want somebody with the big. Wallet, a big deep pocket. And they also want to have somebody that they know is going to pay. So let's take the city of Atlanta, for instance. This is a small city in the south, and Atlanta went ahead and got around somewhere and paid.

And what happened again? A couple of weeks later, they got ransomware and paid. And then what happened about a month later, they got ransomware and they. Multiple times now compare that, for instance, with the metropolitan police department down in Washington, DC. Now in Washington, of course, again, a small town, and they have a metropolitan police department.

And again, They didn't bother putting together the type of security they need. And we just did an audit in fact of a county who will go on named that their cybersecurity was almost completely non-existent, yet you talked to them, and they say it's absolutely there, but in Washington, DC, they got into the police department computers.

Now, if you are connected to one of these networks, you have what is called the feed, just requirements, which are really aimed at law enforcement. But they got on, and they were able to grab all kinds of data, and they said, okay, pay up. Watching the DC said, no, we're not going to pay. We're just going to restore from backup.

So they said, okay, we'll pay up now. Or we're going to release the names of all of your informants and their phone numbers and their home addresses. And what's ended up happening so far. Is. He still hasn't paid, but they did release the identities of the police officers within the department. At least some of them in this is a real problem.

We are, as a nation, allowing these foreign countries to get. Bitcoin typically, which by the way, has been the major motivator, driving up the price of Bitcoin and getting away with it. We are funding North Korean operations. This is one of their major sources of currency attacking us in the United States.

We're talking with Craig Peterson, our tech talker right now, generally, we're talking about things that are to protect your new gadgets, all this stuff, software, and that's generally what we discussed, but there comes a time when we have to open it up globally. And Craig Peterson is the man to do it two weeks.

Stand what's going on. The bigger picture, Greg Bitcoin, is the way. That they can fund themselves because you can't trace it. If I have money, I've got to have some way. If I'm asking for ransom and dollars, there's gotta be some way to get those dollars to me. And, financial institutions can say, we're not doing business with you.

Credit card companies can say we're not doing business with you. And so they get Bitcoin. It's like the wild west. It's like robbing the stagecoach and getting the pieces of gold. 

It is. I had a briefing by the secret service and went through the takedown of one of these dark web operations that were only using.

Bitcoin. And a lot of people have the con the idea that somehow cryptocurrency, because it has crypto in the name as in cryptography, they have the impression that somehow it's secure, they're never going to get caught. And yet, in fact, that's exactly what happened. So there is some speculation right now that because we can track many Bitcoin.

Transactions that these three major ransomware operations shut down over the weekend because of somebody getting a little bit too close. Okay. I don't think it was the call from president Biden that lasted what, three minutes?


Please gimme a break, gimme a bread. 

Yeah. So there are some things that we should do as home users. And as a business, as small businesses, you can get better than 90%, probably close to 95% protection by doing just a full of things 90%, I'd say, but they're both free. Okay. If you have windows use windows defender, it's free.

It's part of your windows 10 installation. Make sure you keep everything up to date and use windows defender. All right. Don't bother with so many of these other antivirus packages that really aren't going to do you any good? So that's number one. Number two, what I teach in my courses and show you exactly how to do it is there's a professional version, but I'm going to tell you right now, get your pencils out.

I'm going to tell you right now the version that it doesn't do anywhere near as much the commercial, but this is going to get you way closer. This is going to get you on the higher side of the 90% range. There is a website out there called OpenDNS. No Cisco, who is the company that runs that makes hardware that runs the internet and is a company that we deal with.

When we install firewalls and switches and clean things up, it's always Cisco bought OpenDNS, and then they improved it. They call it an umbrella. But if you go to OpenDNS, it is simple and it is three. All right. They have paid versions. If you can afford them, get the paid versions, they are better.

They've got all of this consumer stuff and basically all you have to do is make a couple of changes in your network. Are you going to connect to your little firewall router or on your PC? You really don't even have to install any software. You see what happens is once the bad guys get their software on your computer.

Then you have your computer call them up. So essentially you're paying for the phone call, but call them up and say, okay, I've got a computer. What do you want me to do? And then they use your computer now to move around within the network and then install ransomware that et cetera. But if they can't call home, They can't do much or do anything.

And almost all modern ramps are more. If it gets on your machine calls home, can't get there. It just sits dormant. So by telling your computer to use OpenDNS instead of Comcast or whoever your local provider is, what happens now is it asks OpenDNS. Hey how do I get to bad guys.com internet bad guys.com.

And I want to challenge you guys right now. Go there on your computer, internet bad guys.com. And this is a demonstration site. All right. And what'll happen is how do I get your internet bad guys.com? Or how do I get to dark sky or whoever it might be. And OpenDNS will say,   what, where what?

And so they can't call home gym. So if you can. If you can get to that website, internet, bad guys.com right now on your computer. That means that your internet provider is not blocking DNS appropriately. So you can do this simply OpenDNS.com, install the software. If you want more professional stuff, let me know.

We're starting to do some more cybersecurity health assessment is I want businesses and individual to be able to protect themselves. This is the 90% solution. And sorry, I've been rambling for a while. 

Yeah. Oh, this has been great. Now, Craig, if folks want to get in touch with you how do they do it?

Just send me an email just to [email protected] It might take me a few days to get back to you. My wife, as you might know, at a serious activity, but just email me M E Craig peterson.com in the subject line. Just put what you're interested in. If you wanted to know more about OpenDNS or passwords or whatever, and I'll send your info, I'm not charging for any of this stuff and get you on the right path.

[email protected] and you can sign up of course. On my website, which happens to be right. Peter som.com. 

I love that. Make, keep it simple for the stupid anyway. And that's me, me Craig, great segment as usual. And you've been in the forefront of this for quite a while. And and people need to hear more of what you're saying.

Craig, thanks so much. We'll catch up with you next week. All 

right. Take care, Jim. Thanks. Bye. Bye. Hey everybody take care. I have been very busy helping out small businesses and individuals to that cyber health assessment stuff I talked about. I've got a self administered. Cyber health assessment as well.

So keep your eyes out for that and make sure on that mailing list. So you can find out more about it. You can just do it yourself. You don't have to talk to me or my texts or anybody else. Craig peterson.com and sign up right there.