Ransomware refers to malicious programs that cyber crooks use to hold computers or computer files to ransom, demanding payment before they can release them. Unfortunately, ransomware is increasingly becoming a popular method for malware creators to extort cash from consumers and companies alike. A range of ransomware may get into your machine but, as usual, those techniques are either due to social engineering tricks or exploiting software weaknesses to secretly install on your machine.

What to do about it

For starters, ransomware can be extremely scary as the encrypted files may essentially be deemed damaged beyond repair. However, if you’ve prepared your system properly, it’s really just a nuisance. The following are some tips to help you prevent ransomware from ruining your day.

Back up your information

The biggest damage you can suffer from any ransomware attack is losing your files, including documents and pictures.

The best way to protect yourself from ransomware is to have all your data and files backed up in a totally separate system. A great way to do that is to use an external hard disk that’s not online. This means that you’ll not lose any information to hackers should you be attacked.

Businesses often back up their data to remote servers that will not be affected should their main network be attacked.

Always install updates

Companies regularly release software updates, which help to fix weaknesses that can be capitalized on by hackers to install ransomware. Therefore, it’s always recommended that you download the latest version of any software once it’s available.

Use antivirus software

An age-old tip for computer security, antivirus software can prevent the downloading of ransomware onto a computer and can detect when an attempt is made.

Most antivirus software may scan files to rule out the presence of ransomware before downloading them. Also, they can stop secret installations from harmful ads when you’re surfing the internet, and search for malware that could already be on the computer or device.

Beware of suspicious pop-ups and emails

Don’t click links inside suspicious emails. Look at the sender’s email address carefully to ascertain whether it’s from a legit address. Look for clear grammatical errors and typos in the body as well. Hover above links inside emails (without clicking them) to see if they point to dubious web pages. If you get an email that seems to come from an internet service provider, bank, or credit card provider, remember that they’ll never ask for confidential information such as your social security number or password.

Additionally, ransomware authors often utilize pop-up windows that promote software solutions for removing malware. Don’t click these pop-ups and then close the windows safely.

Don’t pay the ransom

If you’ve been attacked by ransomware, it’s best to not pay the ransom as it will encourage attackers and might not help you recover files. There are certain programs that may help decrypt files. Alternatively, you can restore your files if you’ve got a back up.

What should I do if I’m already infected?

If you’re already under a ransomware attack, you first must disconnect your computer or device from the net so it doesn’t infect other devices. Then report the attack to the police and get assistance from an IT firm that focuses on data recovery to know what options could be. You can click here for more information about protecting yourself from ransomware.

In some extreme situations, it might make perfect sense to pay the ransom if the encrypted files are vital and you don’t have backups. But you should never pay the ransom because the hackers are always overwhelmed with requests for releasing data and some who pay the ransom don’t hear back.

Finally, you should note that the spate of ransomware attacks recently has created a great deal of news coverage, primarily because it’s different from previous attacks which were usually stealthy and not damaging to data. Ransomware can definitely be scary, but there are plenty of benign issues that may result in just as much damage.

That’s why it’s always best to back up your information regularly to guard against data loss. This way, regardless of what happens, you’ll be able to restore your data quickly. Hopefully, this ransomware trend can help you understand how important it is to protect your valuable data by backing it up regularly.