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Commerce issues cybersecurity alert on ransomware to state-registered investment adviser firms

9/15/2016 4:50:05 PM

For Immediate Release:

Saint Paul, MN – Amid increasing reports of the prevalence of malicious ransomware infecting unsuspecting computer users throughout North America, the Minnesota Department of Commerce today issued an alert to raise awareness among investment adviser firms of this ever-growing cybersecurity threat.

“It is imperative that everyone in the securities industry take the necessary steps to get cybersecurity ready to prevent, mitigate and respond to cyber attacks. It is everyone’s responsibility – from the boardroom and top executives to rank-and-file employees and solo investment adviser firms,” said Commerce Commissioner Rothman. "I encourage investment advisers registered in Minnesota to remain vigilant regarding cybersecurity matters in general and to learn about the dangers of ransomware in particular."

Ransomware is a specific type of malicious program or virus that encrypts a victim’s computer, network, or files to the point that they are effectively rendered useless, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

In this type of attack, the victim typically receives a message demanding a ransom in exchange for restoring access to the affected systems. Paying ransom does not guarantee victims will regain access to their data. The FBI reports that in a number of instances, individuals who paid the ransom were never provided with decryption keys. 

Cybersecurity experts have determined that more than over 50,000 corporate computers fell victim to ransomware attacks in 2015. The FBI found that victims also have included hospitals, school districts, state and local governments, and law enforcement agencies.

“Anyone with a computer and internet access could potentially become the next victim of a ransomware attack,” Commissioner Rothman said. “Awareness is the first step toward vigilance.”

The agency’s alert includes several suggestions to help state-registered investment adviser firms guard against a potential ransomware attack. The alert is being distributed to the approximately 400 investment adviser firms registered in Minnesota and is available on the Commerce website.

For more information, contact the Commerce by phone at 651-539-1638 or by email at securities.commerce@state.mn.us.

Media Contact:
Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
P: 651-539-1463 | C: 651-368-5050 | ross.corson@state.mn.us

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