BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There have been two ransomware attacks in the Baltimore-area within the past two weeks.

Markus Raushchecker is the Cybersecurity Program Director at the University of Maryland. He said these attacks are becoming more common.

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“They’re attacks where a cybercriminal essentially locks up a victim’s files and doesn’t return access to those files until a ransom is paid,” Rauschecker said.

“Cybercriminals are scanning networks all the time to find vulnerabilities to find their victims,” he added.

In late November, a ransomware attack immobilized Baltimore County Public Schools, disrupting the district’s websites and remote learning programs.

Weeks later, there was an attack on the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, bringing some of their systems down and causing delays to certain medical procedures.

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“Unfortunately, many people and organizations are simply not up to date on their security practices and cybercriminals are exploiting that,” Rauschecker said.

But Rauschecker said these attacks are an opportunity to build back stronger.

“Lessons can be learned and improvements can be made,” he said.

He recommends everyone make a cyber incidence response plan.

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“[That way] you can immediately go into action and response mode and hopefully mitigate the incident and recover and get back to normal as quickly as possible,” Rauschecker said.

Annie Rose Ramos