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Ransomware threat spooks House of Representatives

The House of Representatives has been targeted by a series of attempted ransomware attacks. Representatives and their staff are being warned by the House’s tech support staff to avoid any suspicious links sent to them via email, as that seems to be where the attackers are focusing their attention.

Ransomware is a form of malware attack that’s seen an upswing of attention in recent months. It works by baiting users into running code that encrypts the files on their computers, locking them out. At that point, the only way to remedy the situation is to pay a ransom to the perpetrator.

This can be a huge disruption for any user who happens to be targeted, but clearly it’s liable to cause even bigger problems for the House of Representatives. Between keeping the House running smoothly and ensuring that sensitive data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, it’s crucial that these computers remain secure.

Related: What are the odds that a ransomware payment will go to a children’s charity?

To that end, the House is employing new measures in an attempt to stamp out the ransomware threat. Third-party email clients seem to be the primary target, so the technology desk has banned access to YahooMail and services that use the Google App Engine, according to a report from Tech Crunch.

While action is being taken to manage the threat, it’s unclear whether a successful attack has actually taken place. The House has declined to confirm or deny reports, but it’s reasonable to assume that a breach prompted the tightening of security.

This situation just goes to demonstrate how important an awareness of security is for anyone who uses computers or the internet in their work. Simple practices like avoiding suspicious links and dismissing correspondence from unknown sources can help users avoid ransomware attacks, but these good habits aren’t as widely adopted as they should be.