Protect Against Ransomware
Ransomware is continuingly on the rise, costing individuals, businesses and even government agencies billions each year.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a computer malware that installs covertly on a victim’s computer, executes a cryptovirology attack that adversely affects it, and demands a ransom payment (typically in bitcoins) to decrypt it or not publish it. More advanced malware can encrypt the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demand a ransom payment to decrypt them. Ransomware can encrypt and scramble the names all kinds of files including documents, pictures, videos and audio files which can make it difficult to identify which pieces of data is infected. Ransomware can also extract data from an affected computer like usernames, passwords, etc. and can spread to other PCs connected to a local network.
How can you protect yourself?
The FBI estimates ransomware payments reached $1 billion in 2016 and it is continuing to rise, targeting individuals, businesses, government agencies, academic institutions, and even law enforcement agencies. These attacks are not just limited to desktop computers; even smartphones are vulnerable to ransomware attacks. With that many sources to attack and that kind of profit to be had, it’s safe to say ransomware is going to continue to be a problem for some time making it imperative to know how to protect yourself:
- 1. Use reputable antivirus software and firewall – Antivirus software is a must for a multitude of reasons, but the key to that sentence is “reputable.” There are a lot of fake antivirus scareware scams, so do your research before agreeing to download any program (antivirus or otherwise).
- 2. Backup often – A standard solution to ransomware without contributing to the $1 billion is to shut everything down and start with a fresh install. Solutions such as Datto (a Higher Information Group partner) can bring business continuity with uninterrupted access to data on-site, in transit and in the cloud. Learn More.
- 3. Use caution and enable popup blockers – Sometimes it’s easy to identify a suspicious email or website and avoid it, but it’s important to know that cybercriminals are also utilizing pop-ups to trick users into downloading malicious software. Blocking popups, not click unsolicited email links and avoiding suspicious websites are all little things you can employ every day to protect your computer.
- 4. Alert authorities – It might be tempting to place a call to Liam Neeson so you can hear him give an intimidating speech to the cybercriminals over the phone, but ultimately you should contact your local FBI office as they will want to know about it.
Protecting yourself against these malicious attacks can be difficult, but taking steps such as a reliable antivirus and a consistent backup plan can significantly reduce the risk of being a victim. If your computer encounters ransomware (or any other kind of malicious software), immediately disconnect your computer from the internet and utilize a different computer to research solutions.
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