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King’s ransom

Crippling cyberattacks target organizations

Ransomware prevents users from accessing computer files, systems or networks until a ransom is paid.

The Postal Service wants employees and contractors to be aware of cybercriminals who use ransomware to brazenly take over entire computer networks and hold them hostage until payment is made.

Ransomware — a type of malicious software, or malware, that prevents users from accessing computer files, systems or networks until demands for a ransom are paid — can cause costly disruptions to operations and the loss of critical information and data, according to the FBI.

Here’s how it works: Cybercriminals, sometimes financed by foreign entities, con users into clicking links on seemingly innocuous text and email messages or websites that then place malware onto their company computers.

The malware quickly spreads and encrypts the computer or cloud network, locking users out until a ransom, often in bitcoins or other difficult to trace cryptocurrencies, is paid.

Criminals have attacked school districts, major cities and businesses big and small.

In fact, the Justice Department reports 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since 2016.

If you believe your computer or device has been affected by ransomware, immediately:

• Stop using the infected device.

Email or call 866-877-7247 the Cybersecurity Operations Center.

• Report the incident to your manager or supervisor.

Remember: Don’t use the infected device unless instructed to do so by the Postal Service’s Computer Incident Response Team or the IT Help Desk.

The CyberSafe at USPS Blue and LiteBlue pages have additional information.