It can happen to anyone at any time. Your files are locked on your computer and you can’t open them. Then you get a message that says you can get your files back if you make a payment. This is ransomware and for the past couple of months it has made international headlines, hitting universities, businesses and even hospitals.
However, there are things individuals and businesses can do to protect themselves.
Update! It is the first rule to follow. System updates not only provide fixes to bugs, but also provide protection against future threats. For businesses, if just one employee doesn’t update their security software, it can infect other computers within the company’s network.
Installing antivirus software will help to prevent malware from infecting your computer, but just like operating systems, you must update the software to get the best protection from the newest threats.
Also do not click on any suspicious emails or pop-ups. Experts believe the ransomware had initially infected computers through email attachments. It can also infect computers through pop-up ads offering products that would remove malware.
But what about if you are already affected by this ransomware? Cybersecurity experts say never pay the ransom.
“Because once you do it the first time, you become an easy target so they’ll keep coming back and do the same thing," said Regine Bonneau, the CEO of RB Advisory LLC.
And immediately disconnect your computer from the internet so it doesn’t affect other devices that you are connected to. Then report the crime to law enforcement and contact a technology professional that specializes in data recovery.
Creating a backup of your data and storing it somewhere like a physical hard drive allows you the option to erase all the data from your infected computer and restore it with the backup if a hacker successfully hijacks your computer.
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