Folks, I have to tell you one of the most devastating virus attacks that you can experience is ransomware. Why is ransomware so deadly? Well, just imagine if someone stole your devices and you had not had a chance to make a backup of your information. All of your personal documents, photos, emails and photos gone forever with no chance of recovery. Ransomware wasn't as dominant in 2018, but this year it's reared it's ugly head affecting large businesses such as The Weather Channel, Arizona Beverages, and the City of Albany, NY. It doesn't matter what type of device you use (yes, Macintosh users, I'm talking to you) you are at risk. What can you do? Well read on to find out what Ransomware is and how to protect your devices and precious information.
So what exactly is Ransomware?
Well Ransomware is a type of malicious software that prevents you from accessing your computer, smart device or files and demands you pay a ransom or a fee to regain access. Once your device is infected with ransomware, you are given instructions to pay with cryptocurrency or your credit card. The most common types of Ransomware will either lock up your devices making you call a 800 number to remove the ransom. Sometimes a simple reboot of your device will remove the ransomware, allowing you access to your computer, smartphone or tablet again. Another common type of ransomware will lockup all of your documents, photos, and videos and display a message demanding payment for access to your files. This strain of ransomware is so malicious, not only will it lock up the files on the gateway computer, it will infect any computers, services, external hard drives and flash drives that are also connected to that computer. Unfortunately, there is no way to recover from this type of ransomware, even if you pay the ransom. The only way to retrieve your files is to restore them from a backup.
How do I get ransomware? There are several different ways ransomware can infect your devices. The most common method is through email which will contain malicious attachments such Word documents or Adobe PDF files. Sometimes they contain links to websites that are designed to infect your devices. Another method of infecting your devices is Malvertising, or malicious advertising. It is the act of using online ads to distribute ransomware. One of the most dangerous things about malvertising is it can infect your computers and devices without you clicking on anything. Even legitimate sites you visit, can take you to criminal run websites. These websites can get about your devices and your location, and then select malware that will most likely infect your device. This is why it's important to have anti-virus software on your devices and to make sure your web browser software is up to date.
How can you protect yourself?
There are several things you can do to cut down your risk of a ransomware attack. Take the following precautions:
1. Back your data up like your life depended on it. If your devices get infected, you'll have peace of mind that you can recover your data.
2. Fear the Email Attachment. Be weary of email attachments from strangers and people you know. If you get an attachment in email, make sure you are supposed to receive the attachment. If you aren't sure, reach out and touch someone by calling the person to confirm.
3. Verify your anti-virus software can scan email attachments. Most anti-virus programs offer email scanning. Make sure yours is turned on.
4. Make sure all OS (Operating System) updates and security patches are installed on a regular basis. Many ransomware problems can be prevented if you download the security patches for your devices and making sure you're using the most current version of your devices operating system.
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