KNOX COUNTY, Tenn — Although ransomware attacks have been around for a while, technology experts told 10News they're becoming more common.
"They take all your stuff and say, 'If you don't give us this money, we will take your files away and you'll never get them back,'" technology expert Luke Wood said. "[Ransomware attacks] are hitting bigger and bigger targets."
Last week, Pellissippi State Community College announced a series of workarounds after a ransomware attack took much of its network offline.
This week, the HR software Kronos, which is used by 40 million people, announced its network was down after a ransomware attack.
A number of East Tennessee businesses, including the University of Tennessee Medical Center, use the software.
In a statement Tuesday morning, Kronos said it was investigating whether any data has been compromised.
"You can put an alert with all of the credit bureaus and that's free to do," said Bridgitte Mase, Vice President of Cyber and Technology Solutions for Boston Government Services. "You can also subscribe to services that will basically serve as an identity protection mechanism."
There are also ways to prevent ransomware attacks from happening to you or your company, Mase and Wood said.
"Any account you have that has the ability to use multi-factor authentication, it needs to be turned on," Wood said. "Even if it's an account that you're like, 'Oh, this is just my kids' Disney account,' it doesn't matter."
Second, he emphasized the importance of educating yourself on best cybersecurity practices.
"Ransomware is almost always without fail, someone clicks something they shouldn't have," he said. "So educate, educate, educate."
Finally, he recommends planning for the worst-case scenario.
"You need to have backups of the things that you think are important," he said. "Those are things that if you lost, you would cry is basically the way to think of it."
Mase encouraged updating your software as well for the ultimate defense against ransomware attacks.
"The main area that people can take some preventative type measures is really keeping their systems up to date," Mase said. "That's making sure that they've got anti-malware in place and making sure that they are updating systems and doing vulnerability scanning."