Metro social media users becoming increasing targets of ransomware attacks

ATLANTA — The federal government is warning consumers and companies alike about an increase in cyberattacks.

Cybersecurity experts say they are seeing a surge in ransomware attacks against both multimillion dollar companies and everyday social media users.

Research shows that most hackers can break into your social media account through your username and password.

Once they get that control, they can do anything, including force you to pay hundreds of dollars to get it back.

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15 years of Leanne Springstead’s memories were gone in what felt like seconds after she was the victim of a cyberattack.

Springstead said she noticed something was strange with her husband’s Facebook account. After days of failed login attempts, they realized his profile had changed, and they had been hacked.

“I wrote to the guy, ‘Get off my husband’s profile,’ and he wrote back, ‘Why, when I bought it from somebody?,” she told Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln.

Hackers changed his profile picture, name, email address and password, completely locking them out of regaining control.

“He asked me, Do you want to buy it back?’, well then I just stopped talking with the guy because I’m not about to give him any kind of money for any of this,” Springstead said.


A recent report from Verizon Wireless shows this year has seen a substantial increase in cybercrimes fueled by ransomware and phishing attempts. The report shows that 61% of all data breaches come from stolen log in credentials.

The White House is also warning organizations and individuals to be on high alert.

Springstead says although her situation is minor compared to ransomware attacks against organizations, dozens of everyday working people are falling victim to paying hackers in attempts to get their accounts back.

“It’s really kind of a wakeup call with how comfortable we’ve gotten with technology,” she said.

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Facebook does have several ways users can report fraud if their account has been hacked.

Cybersecurity experts say one of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to change your password frequently.