Cyber crime continues to be a problem that all internet users face and one of the most prevalent and potentially harmful kind of attacks is ransomware. Even if you’re not the most computer literate or are not up to speed with the latest developments in hacking and viruses, you’ll know something about ransomware.
Ransomware is, as the name so cleverly hints, when a cybercriminal locks and encrypts your computer and tells you they will only unlock it once you pay them a certain amount of money. Effectively, holding you to ransom. What’s more some will give you a timeframe within to pay the money by or it’s bye-bye computer and, potentially, all those sensitive or at the very least work-related documents and files.
Does that Mean You Should Pay the Ransom?
You know in movies when they always say, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” or “We never pay the ransom”, that is what you should do. At the end of the day, the people who have used ransomware to try and extort you are criminals. When have you ever known a criminal you can trust to keep their word? While it’s entirely possible that they may give you full control of your computer once you pay them, it’s very likely they won’t. They might just disappear after taking your money or even just keep asking for more, knowing you are desperate and willing to pay.
How Can it Be Avoided?
As with any form of crime, especially cybercrime, the best way to avoid falling prey to it is to take the appropriate preventative measures. That includes:
Investing in Internet Security
It’s not just a clever ploy to get your money – you do need internet security to keep your personal data and sensitive documents or just your own stuff, safe. What’s more, don’t make the mistake a lot of people make and put off updating it. Those updates are crucial as they could contain remedies against the latest ransomware. Zonealarm is a good piece of anti-ransomware software that’s worth checking out.
Another mistake people make is letting their guard down too frequently, especially when it comes to emails. How many times have you opened an email or, worse still, an email attachment, without checking you know the sender address? As email is one of the easiest ways for criminals to deliver ransomware and get it onto your computer, it’s always a good idea to check you know the email address and to avoid opening/downloading any attachments from untrusted or unfamiliar senders.
More on the Subject of Emails
Yet another common mistake made by people is to enable macros because an attachment told them to so they could view the content. Just don’t do it, unless you know the sender and trust them, as this is another clever way that hackers and criminals use to infect your computer. Once macros are enabled, macro malware can start affecting your computer and its files.
Make Backups on an External Hard Drive, in the Cloud or Both
Remember what we said about ransomware earlier? Hackers that use this form of attack are basically counting on your desperation because you want to get your files back. However, if you have backups, then what do they hold over you? So, backup your files to an external hard drive, the cloud or both for good measure.