BOSTON – That Flash plugin update your computer wants you to install may not be what it says it is.

Cybersecurity experts warned officials from local and state government, local police departments, nonprofit organizations and small businesses on Wednesday that a ransomware attack known as Bad Rabbit began spreading across Europe on Tuesday and could target American organizations in the next two weeks.

The warning came as part of the first briefing of the SecureMA initiative, launched by Boston-based CyberReason to help local governments and small businesses better defend their networks against cyber attacks.

Ransomware is malicious software that infects a computer or network and then restricts access to network files until a ransom is paid to unlock it.

“Bad Rabbit gets downloaded as a fake Flash update. The website would show you a screen that says ‘you need to update your Flash plugin, click here to do it,’ ” Cybereason Chief Information Security Officer Israel Barak, who focused on cybersecurity and cyberdefense as part of the Israeli Defense Forces’ red team unit, said. “And if you do it, guess what? You’ve just downloaded Bad Rabbit.”


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