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National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – Ransomware

We’ve talked about scams before – how to recognize them and how to protect yourself from them.  Today Tech Lab wants to highlight ransomware. 

What is ransomware?  Your computer has valuable files on it – files you need and files you don’t want other people to see.  Files that you might pay to get back.  Somehow or another, you get malware on your computer that encrypts all those files.  The hacker has the key to encrypt your files and will unlock your files if you pay the ransom.  That is ransomware. 

The longer you do not pay, the higher the price goes.  You may be able to get it back without paying the ransom if you hire a cybersecurity firm, although this is unlikely.  Even if you pay, you may not get the files back.  Most will though.  If you do pay, whatever you get back may take work to recover.  If you do not pay, your files are deleted for good.  If you do pay, you are more likely to get targeted for this kind of attack in the future. 

Who is a target for ransomware?  Individuals have been targeted by ransomware, but lately businesses have become a prime target.  For businesses, ransomware can be devastating.  For example, governmental offices and healthcare facilities are known to have sensitive data that they need, so they are high-value targets. Small businesses who are attacked may have to close their doors.

What should I do if I am targeted by ransomware?  First, verify that your files have been encrypted.  If you have a plan about what to do, follow that plan.  If you need the files, we recommend paying sooner rather than later.  Know, however, that if you do pay, you are more likely to be targeted for ransomware in the future. Contact your local police. Call your IT provider. If you do not have one, call 414-208-4682 and Tech Lab can help you with your recovery.

How can I protect myself from ransomware?  Make a plan of what you would do if you had this problem. Share this plan with the people who need to know. Purchase cybersecurity insurance to help you cover the costs for when you are attacked. Be very careful about what attachments you open for e-mails.  Be very careful about the links that you open from e-mails.  Make sure the other people at your office do the same. 

Use antivirus software, and scan your computer regularly for viruses.  Use malware blocker software.  Make sure to keep your computer, programs (especially your browser), and apps updated.  Make sure that your e-mail systems have good spam filters, including protections such as SPF, DMARC, and DKIM. 

Back up your computer.  Back it up to a hard drive (and don’t keep the hard drive plugged into the computer), and back it up off-site.  If you have a backup, you may not have to pay the ransom because you will have unencrypted versions of your files. 

If you need help protecting yourself from ransomware, please contact Tech Lab at 414-208-4682. We can provide you with antivirus, malware protection, help create backups, and help you make a plan to be protected.

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