It used to be that hackers created and distributed viruses and malware for fun – just because they could. But no longer. Now, they do it for a living. Ransomware has made hacking a profitable industry at the cost of unsuspecting and unprepared computer users everywhere.
WHAT IS RANSOMWARE?
According to one source: ‘Ransomware is a subset of malware in which the data on a victim’s computer is locked, typically by encryption, and payment is demanded before the ransomed data is decrypted and access returned to the victim. The motive for ransomware attacks is nearly always monetary, and unlike other types of attacks, the victim is usually notified that an exploit has occurred and is given instructions for how to recover from the attack. Payment is often demanded in a virtual currency, such as bitcoin, so that the cybercriminal’s identity isn’t known.’
HOW CAN YOU PREPARE?
Ransomware, like all other computer viruses and malware, infects your computer by various means – either exploiting old, out of date software and computer systems, or by tricking users into some action which results in the malware being downloaded to their device.
Prevention is the first way to be prepared for ransomware. As with all malware, be very cautious when you are on the internet. Think twice about clicking on links or responding to pop-ups. You can also use Anti-Virus software designed to prevent ransomware from attacking your system. Malwarebytes, one of our vendors, provides an excellent product that is specifically designed to prevent ransomware attacks. Finally, good backups of your entire system will allow you to restore a system that has been infected. However, there’s a catch. These backups should not be connected to your computer or network. If they are, there’s a good possibility that the ransomware will find those backups and encrypt them as well. Your backups should be stored on unattached external hard drives or using a ‘cloud’ service that is not normally connected to your system. A combination of these solutions would provide the ultimate protection for your data.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Not sure how to go about protecting yourself from ransomware? Ask us how we can help you to be prepared.