The word "ransomware" unto itself is creepy. But when you consider how much more dangerous it is to people's health, safety and financial well-being, when compared to many other types of malware, it's truly scary.
As it turns out, there's a reason you're suddenly hearing about ransomware attacks almost every day, whether it's hackers locking up police department's emergency response systems or hospital's patient records. That reason is military-grade encryption.
Simply, hackers now have easy access to sophisticated malware that encrypts your computer system so well that it's virtually impossible for anyone, even the FBI, to unlock it. Hackers know this, so they're becoming a lot bolder in attacking computer systems and demanding payment.
This statistic is shocking. Ransomware attacks in April surged 159% from March, making it the worst month ever for ransomware attacks, according to EnigmaSoftware. And there's a very good reason to believe these attacks are going to get much costlier for people like you.
In just the first 11 months of 2015, cybercriminals stole $325 million from people and companies. And that's just in the United States.
These frightening stats are a reminder to protect yourself. But how? Here are three ways you can protect yourself from a ransomware attack. (And keep reading for a Bonus fourth way to protect your family from becoming the next ransomware victims.)
How to protect yourself from ransomware:
- Backup your computer files, so you have an extra copy of everything that could be lost or frozen in a ransomware attack
- Accept security updates from trustworthy software programs and make sure your Web browser is set to automatically update. It most likely is, but to check on Windows 10, for example: Start >> Settings >> Update & Security >> Windows Update >> Advanced Options >> look for down arrow and make sure it's set to Automatic.
- Don't fall for phishing email scams. If a business sends you an email attachment or hyperlink, contact them to make sure they sent it. (There's a very good chance they didn't.)