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New ransomware scheme makes it worse than ever

As a loyal Komando listener, you already know that ransomware became the number one digital threat in 2016. The number of attacks increased so much that the FBI estimates victims paid almost $1 billion in ransom last year alone.

Unfortunately, these attacks are about to get worse. New threats have been discovered that cause more damage than just encrypting your files.

Ransomware attacks have become especially popular with cybercriminals due to their simplicity and anonymity. We’ve even told you about ransomware-as-a-service that non-tech savvy people can purchase on the dark web. These newly discovered threats could make the number of attacks grow out of control.

What makes this ransomware more frightening?

Traditional ransomware attacks are pretty straight forward. The criminal infects your gadget with malicious software that encrypts data found on your computer or gadget until a sum of money is paid. If the victim decides not to pay the ransom, they lose access to those files.

What’s happening now is, the malicious software doesn’t stop at encrypting data files. It also modifies the infected gadgets’ Master Boot Record, which allows the system to boot into its operating system.

If your gadget is infected with this ransomware, it will only boot into a lock screen set up by the hacker. So if the victim decides not to pay, not only will they lose access to their files but they will lose access to everything on the gadget.

The criminal then demands payment for access to the files and to restore access to the operating system. The device will be wiped completely by the hacker if payment is not made and the victim loses everything on the gadget.

With these threats constantly evolving into more horrifying attacks, it’s more important than ever to stay protected.

How to stay protected from ransomware

Since ransomware attacks are the number one digital threat, U.S. government agencies are getting involved. Here are some recommendations from the FBI on how to avoid ransomware attacks:

  • Back up data regularly – this is very important. It’s the best way to recover your critical data if you are infected.
  • Download only trusted software – make sure the software you download comes from trusted sites. Avoid third-party app stores when downloading apps.
  • Make sure your backups are secure – do not connect your backups to computers or networks that they are backing up.
  • Never open risky links in emails – if you get an email or notification that you find suspicious, don’t click on its links. It’s better to type the website’s address directly into a browser. Before you ever click on a link, hover over it with your mouse to see where it is going to take you. If the destination isn’t what the link claims, do not click on it.
  • Have strong security software – This will help prevent the installation of ransomware on your gadget.

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