When we said that 2016 is the year of ransomware, we weren't kidding. If you're feeling inundated by news of new ransomware attacks, one after the other, it's because hackers have figured out a relatively simple way to steal a lot of money.
In fact, they stole $24.1 million from people like you in one year, according to the FBI. The problem is that many people and companies don't take these hacks as seriously as you do. So, hackers keep finding new victims to steal money from.
Worse, hackers aren't dumb. In fact, many of them are likely well-educated geeks making a hefty paycheck from a company where they live, whether it's Russia, Iran, China, or somewhere else.
Meaning, they've got the smarts, skills, and incentive to continually devise new, nastier ransomware. A chilling example is KeRanger.
That Mac OS X ransomware, which is likely spreading to PCs, has coding that reveals hackers next target: Your backed up computer files.
If you back up your computer, that's smart. If your computer crashes, you can always access your backed up files, to retrieve everything you lost. The same is true if a hacker encrypts your computer, demanding ransom before they unlock your precious photos and important financial documents.
With KeRanger, hackers have started to code it to encrypt your local backed up files and, down the road, it could target the files you back up to the cloud.
"The prime way for recovering from a ransomware attack is recovering your backups," said Mikko Hypponen at the Cloud Security Expo earlier this week, according to TechRepublic. "If it encrypts backups, you can't retrieve the data. We have a technical term for ransomware trojans that go after backups. This is known as a d**k move."
Here's some advice from FBI Cyber Task Force's Timothy Wallach, at the same conference: "The best prevention for ransomware is to have thorough backups that are off the network, as well as encrypting your own data. That way if the guys encrypt it with ransomware, you still have it."