Ransomware is a type of malicious software (otherwise known as ‘malware’) that restricts people from accessing their computer or smartphone, or individual files stored on them. Attackers extort money from their targets by holding their device or data to ransom, often threatening to release or erase it to force payment. A new strand of ransomware has been found recently that even asks the victim to help the scammers infect at least 2 other devices in order to free up their files for use. The device is infected when the victim clicks a link, visits a web page, or installs a file, application, or program that includes malicious code designed to covertly download and install the ransomware. Ransomware is a nasty form of malware that is growing in popularity.
Here are 5 ways to protect yourself from ransomware.
Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date.
Installing anti-virus and anti-malware software and keeping it up to date is important to protect your devices. New versions of malware are released often. If your software is properly updated and can detect new versions of malware as soon as they are released, then you stand a better chance of avoiding an attack.
Back up your files.
Backing up your files is important because malware encrypts and restricts access to your files. If your files are backed up on your PC, you may be able to restore them if you are attacked. It is a good idea to back up files to the cloud as well in case you have files that are backed up on your computer that are also encrypted by the ransomware.
Do not click on links in emails from unknown sources.
If you get emails from companies that look real but something seems off, do not open them or click on the links. Delete it or contact the company directly and ask for more information. For example, you may get an email saying that your social media account is suspended and you need to click a link and provide your details to unlock the account. This is probably a phishing scam. The link could contain malware.
Don’t download software from third-party sites.
Beware of third-party sites offering free or deeply discounted versions of popular software. These apps often contain malware and viruses. Always download software from the official site of the vendor, ex: Apple App Store, Google Play Store, etc.
Contact the police if you become the victim of a ransomware attack.
If you become the victim of a ransomware attack be sure to contact the police and make a report. They will be able to advise you of what to do regarding paying the ransom. They will be able to collect information from the demand and investigate to track the criminals. Paying the ransom could lead to further attacks and depending on how you pay, it could compromise your other accounts. Your files may not even be decrypted after you make payment. It is not always the best idea to pay without consulting the authorities.
Make sure that anyone who uses your business computers and other devices knows how to avoid ransomware attacks. Protect all of your devices including smartphones and tablets.