Ransomware is an online form of the bully’s game of keep-away. Here, the bully gets into your computer and takes your personal files: documents, photos, financial information, all the things you care about. Those files are still on your computer, dangling in front of you, but they are encrypted now, useless to you. In order to get them unencrypted, you’ll need to pay the bully $300-500.
This is the fastest growing crime on the internet. It grew by 4500% in 2014, and shows no signs of stopping, it’s just too profitable for the bullies. How do you stop the bullies? Kevin Haley, director, Symantec Security Response, shares five things that will make a tremendous difference.
1. Don’t pay the ransom
I can hear someone asking, ‘But won’t you get your files back if you pay the ransom?’ Just like a bully who tires of the keep-away game, it is likely you will get your files back if you pay. But you might not. Sensing a sucker on the hook, you might get asked to pay again and again. However, even if you’ve got an honest thief, one willing to unlock your files if you pay, why would you ever give money to a crook? Especially one who will use the money to fund playing bully to a host of other people? It just doesn’t seem right to me.
2. Don’t click on attachments in emails
There are a lot of different gangs running ransomware scams who use different ways to try and infect you. One of the most popular is using spam. The email could say there was a package for you that couldn’t be delivered, or a cool screensaver that you should install. Whatever the con, the bad guys want you to click on an attachment to install the malware. Don’t do it. Just don’t click.
3. Do keep software up-to-date
The bad guys know about weaknesses in the software on your PC before you do. And they try to use them to get into your machine. It’s called exploiting a vulnerability. Patching removes the vulnerability. If you’re asked if you want to update your software – Do. It. Now. Waiting only helps the bad guys.
4. Do use security software
If you have a friend who is a security expert, who spends 24/7 keeping up on all the latest malware threats and watches over your shoulder whenever you are on your computer, you’ll be pretty safe on the internet. Otherwise, get good security software to do that. Make sure it is more than just Anti-Virus software. I recommend Norton Security.
5. Do back up
No one ever thinks anything bad will happen to them, until it does. I sure hope you never have ransomware infect your machine. But if it you ever do, wouldn’t it be nice to have a copy of all your files somewhere safe? You can tell the bully where to get off. Everyone knows they need to back up their files. Now you have one more very good reason to do it.
These ransomware bullies are preying on us. But just by following a few simple dos and don’ts we can protect ourselves from them. And protect ourselves from all the other malware bullies out there too.
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