Over the past few years, we’ve seen a myriad of malicious software make their way to computers and hold the data on it hostage for ransom. Referred to as ‘ransomware,’ the sole purpose of the software is for the creator to get money out of victims, which include businesses and individuals alike.
Avoiding Malicious Cyber Attacks
The malicious software finds its way onto your computer, exploiting unpatched security holes and tricks the operating system or the user into installing it. The best way to avoid being held hostage by ransomware is to know how it works and take steps to prevent it from ever getting on to your computer.
Don’t Click on Suspicious Links
Spam emails often have links that promise millions or a beautiful woman. Websites may have links to what they promise is free software that otherwise costs hundreds of dollars. Regardless, these links are suspicious, and clicking on them is tantamount to installing ransomware on your computer.
Once ransomware is on your system, it will encrypt the data and lock the computer. You will then be required to pay, to get access to the data. While it may appear to be the simplest solution, paying will not guarantee that your device will be back to normal.
Don’t Give Personal Data
Whether it is an email, call, or some other form of communication from an untrusted or unknown source, never give out your personal information. Many crooks will try to get personal information from you before launching a ransomware attack. The data they get helps to craft an attack that gets past all the barriers in place by luring you into opening the link.
Ignore requests from companies and individuals calling you up for information. If it looks important, call up the company directly to find out if it is genuine.
Don’t Download or Open Untrusted Attachments
Email attachments are another way for ransomware to get installed on to your computer. If you don’t know or trust the sender, don’t download or open the attachment. If the sender looks familiar, check their email address. Also, check to see if the attachment looks genuine. If not, contact the person who might have sent it. You never want to open attachments with macros and view them.
Download Software from Reputed Websites
You never want to download files and software from websites that aren’t reputed. Media files, in particular, are a way for ransomware to get on to your computer. Trusted sites will have a marker like the ‘padlock’ symbol in your browser and have an ‘https’ prefix. That verifies the website is secure.
If you are downloading software for your Android phone, only use a reputed source like Google Play Store. The same goes for using the Appstore for iPhone users.
Always Use Mail Server Content Filtering and Scanning
Some types of scanning will make it harder for ransomware to make it through to your computer. It also reduces spam and malware from reaching your inbox. So, it is all around good practice.
If you ever get hit by a ransomware attack, contact an expert. Don’t pay the hacker, because that will not fix your problem, perhaps even compound it.