The Rise of Ransomware and How to Deal with It

Nearly 50% of organizations have been affected by ransomware. Ransomware is malware in which an attacker can lock you out of your computer or phone, and the only way to unlock it is by paying the attacker the requested amount of money in a designated amount of time. Typically, you would get a message that indicated a certain number of bitcoins to be paid in exchange for your files to be decrypted.

What makes ransomware so dangerous is the fact that you do not even have to come in contact with the attacker in order to be locked out. When most people think of a ransom, they imagine an imprisonment of some sort and then are forced to pay a requested amount of money to be released. In this digital world, all it takes are some minor technical computer skills and then you’re locked out. This can happen to anyone. In fact, over the last year, security experts have seen a 400% rise in these sort of attacks.

So what can we do about this? How do we defend ourselves?

  1. Back up your data on a regular basis

This is the most import aspect of protecting yourself against ransomware. You may not be able to recover the file your started working on in the morning, but by backing up your data regularly, you will be able to retrieve all the important files that you decided to save. Imagine it in terms of a saved game and then the power goes out. The little time you spent playing without saving will be deleted, but you will be able to go back to your previous save.

  1. Always update your software

Often times a software patch will include a security update. Malware creators often rely on people running outdated programs in which have known vulnerabilities. One trick to get rid of the hassle of updating is to configure your settings for automatic updates.

  1. Act quickly if you find yourself stuck by disconnecting from the network immediately

If you feel as though you encountered ransomware, before the window pops up that says how much you owe and the amount of time left to pay, disconnect from the network immediately in order to stop incoming connection with the malware.

  1. Don’t click on suspicious emails and links

Hover before you click. If you see a website link on an email from an unknown or unfamiliar source, don’t click on it because it could lead you to a malicious site or put malware on your computer. Hovering over the link can ensure whether or not it leads to a reliable source. It will give the full address of the site and then you can judge whether it looks familiar or reliable.

Here is a link to a MalwareBytes article filled with infographics concerning the rise of ransomware and what you can do to protect yourself: