Ransomware has become a growing security issue within recent years that can cause detrimental damage to both businesses and consumers. Hackers are sending malicious e-mails that contain malware attachments and once opened, the malware takes full control of the computer. Once the computer hardware is seized, the malware will encrypt the data and make it impossible for the original user to access their computer. In order for the user’s computer to become unlocked, the hacker’s will request a hefty ransom that ranges anywhere from $60 up to $17,000.
A study conducted by Symantec evaluated criminals committing ransomware and discovered the following:
- In just one day, 168 users were hacked and paid the ransomware, allowing criminals to earn approximately $33,600 - this estimates to almost $394,000 in a single month.
- In one month, 68,000 computers became infected – this averages to around 5,700 computers each day.
Backup Important Data
Experts advise both consumers and businesses to backup their computer data weekly, or even daily for heightened protection. Start by backing up all data on an external hard drive or cloud storage system. If a hacker somehow is able to hold your computer data ransom, you will have the upper hand by having your information already saved somewhere else. These solutions are typically inexpensive and cost much less than having to pay a ransom fine.
Brian Foster, chief technology officer at Damballa, advised, “I’m a big fan of online backups,” he said. “You should expect that, if you get hit by ransomware, you are not going to get the PC back.”
Keep Your Computer Updated
Whenever a computer security update is prompted, be sure and download the latest version so that your computer has the most recent forms of protection against cyber criminals. For those who manage a content management system or a website-based company, be sure and stay up-to-date with the newest patches and improvements.
Use Anti-Virus Programs
Integrating an anti-virus program will help protect against possible malware attempts. Be sure to use anti-virus software that helps defend against a variety of malware issues, including the ability to scan attachments in e-mails. Scanning attachments prior to download will help weed out dangerous files from infecting your computer in the first place.
Be Weary of Suspicious E-mails
Always make sure and validate the source of e-mails prior to clicking or downloading any attachments. Something that may appear as normal, such as confirming a shipment with a link attached, can be disguised as a scam. Always think before clicking anything and if the e-mail looks suspicious or skeptical, delete it.
“In the past year, we have seen the content of these emails being both near perfect in local languages and also looking much more legitimate than previously,” said Jens Monrad, systems engineer at FireEye. “While the majority of ransomware attacks still happen opportunistically, we often see them being ‘localised’ so they fit into the targeting countries.”
Ransomware can be difficult to recognize in e-mails, as the malware typically looks like normal attachments and links. However, consumers and businesses need to be on alert for potential scams. Make sure and backup data on a regular basis to safeguard confidential information, keep your computer updated with the latest security solutions, always use an anti-virus program, and be weary of suspicious looking e-mails to ultimately protect against ransomware attempts.