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How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

Ransomware attacks have surged in the last few years. Today, ransomware is becoming increasingly sneaky about how it attacks victims. We’re here to teach you how to defend yourself against ransomware attacks.

Ransomware

Understand How Ransomware Works

Ransomware all works in a similar way. You download the malicious file through an email attachment or an infected website. Then, the software quietly encrypts files on your computer. Sometimes, it targets specific documents. In other cases, it encrypts everything on your computer.

Then, the ransomware locks down your computer. Instead of being able to access your computer’s normal functions, you see a “ransom note”. Your computer displays a message demanding you pay a certain amount of money in a certain period of time. If you don’t pay that money, your files will be deleted.

Never Let Your Defenses Down, No Matter Where You Work

In May 2017, UK hospitals were attacked by a ransomware called WannaCry. That ransomware shut down a significant number of NHS hospitals – a shutdown that could have killed people.

That same WannaCry ransomware attacked a Spanish telecom giant, FedEx, and the Russian Interior Ministry.

Whether you’re an individual user or an employee at a large organization, you can’t afford to let your defenses down. If you receive a suspicious email with an attachment, you need to think twice before opening that file.

Question Even the Most Innocent-Looking Emails

Ransomware emails don’t say things like, “Hey, I’ve attached ransomware to this email. Download it to infect your computer. Thanks.”

Instead, they say things like “Please see the attached invoice and remit payment according to the terms listed at the bottom of the invoice.” Check out this ransomware email, identified by McAfee, for an example.

Remember that Attacks Can Be Targeted

If you work for a corporation, then your company email address could be accessible online. An attacker could extract your email, then send personalized messages to employees in an effort to breach the corporate network.

Even if you’re just a cog in the machine, you need to question every email you receive. Emails can be targeted. They could mention your specific position by name. They might even know personal details about you. For all intents and purposes, it looks like a legitimate email from a legitimate contact.

Don’t Trust Your Contacts

Most people are smart enough not to open an email from an unidentified contact on their work system. But what about a contact from a trusted coworker? What about an email from your boss? Would you think twice before downloading an attachment from those people?

Ransomware creators use social engineering strategies to enhance the efficiency of their attacks. Take a closer look at the email address. Just because the email appears to come from a trusted contact doesn’t mean that it’s actually from that contact.

2017 is the Worst Year for Ransomware On Record

2017 is on track to be the worst year for ransomware attacks. So far this year, we’ve seen tens of thousands of infected computers in over 100 countries around the world. Ransomware attacks are also more profitable than ever before. And, thanks to payment methods like bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it’s easy for attackers to anonymously accept payments. By following the tips listed above, you can avoid 99% of all ransomware attacks.

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