York DA: Reports of malware attacks at 'unprecedented level' during pandemic

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

The number of reports in York County of ransomware attacks on computers has risen dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to York County District Attorney Dave Sunday.

"We're getting reports that it's happening at an unprecedented level among York County businesses," he said.

Sunday told The York Dispatch that no specific numbers have yet been compiled but that a local corporate attorney has been alerting the DA's office to the increase. That attorney has been acting as a mediator between victims and hackers, the DA said.

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday

In ransomware attacks, hackers seize control of computers, freeze them and demand ransom money to restore the stolen information. They also are known as malware attacks, short for malicious software.

"There's a whole black market to this," Sunday said, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only fueled it.

"Everybody's living through their computers. As a result of that, there are more people available for criminals to take advantage of," he said. "Unfortunately we live in a world where criminals will take opportunity wherever they can find it."

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Hackers know no geographic boundaries, the DA said.

Sunday urged people and businesses to keep their anti-virus protections updated, and to protect their sensitive information.

"Everybody should back up their personal data on their computer," he said, by saving it on a cloud service or on a separate drive.

"That's the No. 1 thing you can do to protect yourself," Sunday said.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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