Ransomware – It is Real and It is Happening Today

Ransomware is part of today’s world and every person, business and government is at risk. Its proliferation is inevitable unless we take a proactive approach preventing it. It is also very disguisable and difficult to detect, and these two aspects create a recipe for disaster. The scammers are sending phishing emails with the intention of tricking their prey to click on a harmful PDF.

For example, you might receive an email with an attached PDF that is disguised as a receipt. In this example, the email might come with instructions to open the PDF to view your payment. Do not open!! If you open, it will ask you to accept opening another file. The second file is a word document that runs macros, leading to data encryption. From here the scammer will hold your data hostage and demand a ransom averaging $1,250 U.S. dollars.

Protection against ransomware

Beware of links — Do not click on links if you have even a slight suspicion. If you get an email or notification with a link it is safer to manually type the website address into a separate browser.

Macro-enabling — Unsolicited emails are always a risk. Never download files attached to these emails. If you happen to open one, DO NOT enable macros, and close the file immediately.

Do your research — If you receive a suspicious email with a call to action, for example a late payment that you owe, do some research before opening. If people have seen the same scam they are most likely going to write about it.

Typos — Professional email notifications should not have typos. These kinds of scams are notorious for containing typos and are big red flags.

Strong authentication — For sensitive website accounts, such as your bank, you should always have at least two forms of identification.

FBI recommendations

Ransomware ramifications mandated U.S. government involvement in 2016. Below are some recommendations from the FBI on intercepting ransomware attacks.

Back up data regularly — Backing up your data is a prerequisite in preventing ransomware attacks.

Secure backups — Backups to certain computers or networks can be insecure. Double check that the place where you back-up your data is also secure.

Unsolicited emails — Do not open emails from unknown senders, and never open their attachments.

Trusted software — Do not download software you are unfamiliar with. Double check with professionals to ensure it comes from a secure place.

Install security software — Make sure it is strong and trusted. Ask for professional advice. This can help prevent the virus from spreading to your gadget.

We will say it over and over and cannot say it enough: Back-up your data!

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