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Cyber criminals finding success in lower profile
Major hackers like those involved with the Panama Papers, Anonymous or WikiLeaks get all the attention, but others are cashing in by keeping a lower profile.
These hackers do it by infecting computer networks to make them inaccessible, then selling the owners the cure.
They get away with it because it's cheaper to pay these cyber pirates than to try to find a solution elsewhere.
Infecting a computer network is as simple as clicking on an infected link.
Hospitals are a prime target because of the reams of private data they handle, with municipalities and agencies vulnerable as well.
Hackers demanded about $740, paid in the cyber currency bitcoin, from Plainfield, New Jersey, population 50,000, after its computer system was infected.
After an employee clicked on an infected link, city officials rushed to pull servers offline, but didn't get to three of them in time, leaving about 10 years of documents and emails inaccessible because they were encrypted by the malware.
The criminals prey on people's willingness to click on the latest viral video, Facebook link, email or Twitter.
Most of the burden of avoiding becoming a cyber hostage falls on system administrators, who need to perform regular scans, keep operating systems and anti-virus software up-to-date as well as back up data.
They have the additional task, however, of training -- make that nagging, browbeating, cajoling or threatening -- users to avoid bad habits like clicking every inviting link that appears on their desktops.