Have you heard the term ransomware recently?
Ransomware is a form of malware that can be very destructive. It can be downloaded when an unsuspecting user clicks on an email link or visits a website that is infected. Once the ransomware has installed itself, it goes to work encrypting all of the data on the computer’s hard drive. Upon completion of the encryption, a screen is displayed that will inform the user that they have a certain amount of time to transfer the “ransom” to the attacker or their data will be either left encrypted and inaccessible or destroyed. Usually the request for ransom is in the form of a Bitcoin payment. When the payment is sent, the attacker may provide the key to unencrypt your files or they may just take your money and run. You are, after all, dealing with criminals.
How do you prevent ransomware? It is just like preventing any malware.
- Do not click on links in unexpected email.
- Do not open files from unexpected email.
- Browse only trustworthy websites. You can check if a website is safe by configuring your antimalware and antivirus software to scan websites as you are browsing.
- Enable the Windows firewall to potentially block malicious activity.
- Update your current software. Applying updates closes the previously known vulnerabilities limiting the ability of the attacker to succeed.
- Use a reputable antivirus software and configure it to auto update.
- User a reputable antimalware software and configure it to auto update.
How do you safeguard your data from a ransomware infection?
- Creating and maintaining data backups and testing them will provide you with a safe copy of your data that you can use to recover from a ransomware attack.
Finally, if you become infected, do not go through this alone. Contact the local police or FBI as soon as you see the ransomware screen. The authorities can help you weigh your options on how to proceed or recover from this situation. Also, reporting the attack helps authorities track the severity of the problem, identify and track cybercrime rings, request appropriate funds and focus their budgets and resources accordingly.