According to Microsoft MVP J. Peter Bruzzese, the weakest link in cybersecurity is the user. That means you. I know that may sound harsh, but in many cases he's right. The word of the day with Bruzzese is ransomware.
While I've been covering ransomware and how to keep it off of your PC for months, I'm glad to see Microsoft getting on board. After the Swansea Police Department in Massachusetts ended up paying off the crooks who infected its computers with the CryptoLocker malware, everyone realized that ransomware is one of the most dangerous threats around.
To refresh your memory, CryptoLocker is ransomware that encrypts all of your computer's files after it worms its way into your computer. It then asks you to pay few hundred dollars before a certain date to get the "key" to your files.
If you miss the date, the crooks just delete the key and you lose everything on your PC.
Some might argue that it's better than other kinds of malware. I mean, all you have to do is to give the hackers their payoff and then they'll leave, right? Wrong, says Bruzzese:
The problem with paying the ransom is that you tell the bad guys, “If this happens again, I will pay you,” so you go on the list of repeat targets, likely for a higher ransom amount. Certainly, if you don’t have secured backups of your data, you need to start making them.
So the side effect of paying the ransom to get your data back means that you paint a massive target on your back for next time that criminals need to make a quick buck.
His final words for keeping your computer free from ransomware threats? Well, you'll probably be familiar with it if you've been following my security alerts. Stay up to date on what fake emails might contain malware and keep your anti-virus software updated.