Holding Your Data Hostage: 7 Things You Need to Know About Ransomware Scams

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The FBI estimates there are 4, 000 ransomware attacks per day. This leaves many business and private computer networks in danger of an attack if people aren’t prepared for the means of attack.

You can make sure data stays protected from many malware attacks with help from hacking experts. This doesn’t work with ransomware scams, though.

To protect from ransomware attacks, it’s important to understand how these scams work and how you can protect yourself best. Read on for seven things you should know about ransomware to help you protect your data.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware victims download the attack when they click on infected links or download shady software. Ransomware acts like a virus that requires a fee to unlock. In essence, your computer gets taken for ransom until you pay to get it back.

The virus locks or encrypts your files, making it impossible for you to access these files. The attack usually has a message attached from the attacker insisting on payment for a key that will unlock the files. You also usually have a time limit placed to make the payment before your files get wiped out.

What Does Ransomware Look Like?

The distinguishing factor of ransomware involves the ransom note you receive once you download the virus. This note will look different depending on the attacker’s preference, but it will still inform you that you can’t access your files.

Some attackers get tricky with official-looking notes, making you believe law enforcement has your computer locked. Other notes are mere taunts asking for money. Either way, they’ll give you a way to pay along with the amount they want.

7 Facts About Ransomware Scams

Ransomware scams can leave you and your whole network vulnerable. In a business setting, one infected computer can easily take the whole network out. This makes it important to understand what you’re dealing with.

With ransomware, the best method of protection involves avoidance from potential attacks. This requires teaching people how the attack works. It also means setting up private networks and delivering training on avoiding shady links and downloads.

1. Email Acts as Most Common Means of Attack

Email links are the most common way to send ransomware. In fact, 59% of ransomware attacks occur through these email links. The viruses get attached to image files or links embedded in the message.

Once you click on the link or file in the email, you download the virus on your computer. These emails often get sent from accounts that mimic addresses you know. This makes it important to ensure that all emails you open are legitimate before opening any links.

2. Ransomware Attacks Take Two Forms

A ransomware attack can take the form of a locker or crypto program. The attacks act differently, but both keep your files unattainable.

A locker program will just lock up your files. There’s no encryption required, so specific files get attacked with this form. The manner of attack makes it easier to gain access back from the attacker.

A crypto attack requires the attacker to encrypt files. The code infects the computer and sets up a timer to countdown for your files to get deleted if payment doesn’t get received on time.

3. Payment Doesn’t Guarantee Freedom

Ransomware attackers demand payment to give you access to the files once again. Unfortunately, this payment doesn’t guarantee freedom from the attacker.

If you pay the fee, you might mark yourself as an easy target. This means the attacker might insist on further payments rather than unlocking your computer. This can go on as long as the attacker wants, with little for you to do against it.

4. Personal Computers Aren’t the Only Thing at Risk

Your computer isn’t the only device you have that’s at risk for a ransomware attack. As long as a virus can get attached to a link or download, you can put a virus on any devices.

This means your Android, iOS, and Linux run devices are as vulnerable as your computer. Your smart televisions also hold a risk for attack. This makes it important to stay careful regarding the items you download to these devices.

5. There Are Limitations to What Law Enforcement Can Do

Law enforcement officials are limited in the actions they can take against ransomware attacks. Law enforcement agencies, including FBI officials, have even found themselves under attack without an ability to track the attacker.

Agencies have shown some success, but the tracking capabilities on attacks prove limited. This means your protection against ransomware attacks lies primarily on your hands.

While officials do not recommend paying the attacker, some agencies have found themselves forced to make the payment anyway. They also tell you to pay up if you haven’t backed up your files.

6. Software Updates Are Important

To ensure safety to your devices, you want to run an up-to-date program. This includes installing necessary updates as soon as they’re available. You also want to make sure you use legitimate programs to avoid attacks.

Software updates are important because they include protection against known attacks that prove effective to keep your files safe. While the notifications can get annoying, they’re essential.

7. You Need a Backup Strategy

While you can take steps to protect your business from an attack, you need to prepare yourself in case the worst happens. This means backing up your files so you can access them if your computer downloads a virus.

Setting up a backup strategy will help you avoid losing everything if you accidentally download ransomware. You can read more here to find out the best means to make these backups. If nothing else, make sure you use a USB to backup your most important files.

Stay Up-To-Date to Protect Your Tech

With ever-changing technology, it’s important to keep up with changes that can leave you vulnerable. Between ransomware scams and other malware attacks, you need to know how to protect your tech.

You also want to keep up with the best tech to make your life easier. To stay up-to-date with new technologies and protection, check out more tech advice.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.