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Security & privacy

Ransomware affects 1 in 40 – Are you at risk?

Malware comes in many forms — some download applications for complete control over your device, while others infiltrate your crypto wallets or read private messages. You can be targeted via email, fake websites, or even an innocent-looking photo editing program. Tap or click here for 36 malicious apps to watch out for.

Among the worst attacks is when hackers hold your documents, data and private information hostage. This is known as ransomware, which locks down your computer or device, cutting off your access. You can only regain control of your data if you pay the hackers their financial demand.

The larger the company, the more ransom is demanded. Read on to see what you can do to safeguard your files.

Here’s the backstory

Earlier this year, McDonald’s suffered a ransomware attack. Two months before that, payroll company Kronos experienced the same fate, causing millions to get their paychecks later than usual. Tap or click here to check out our full report.

Those are just two examples of ransomware that made it into the news, but research from Check Point indicates that one in 40 businesses fall victim to this kind of cybercrime every year. That might not seem like a lot until you realize that over 30 million businesses were operating in the U.S. in 2019.

That means over 800,000 companies are hit by ransomware annually. It’s easy to see why it’s such a lucrative venture for hackers, as ransom demands are often set in the millions of dollars per attack.

The average weekly attacks per organization worldwide reached a peak of 1,200 — an increase of 32% compared to last year. In addition, the most heavily attacked business sectors are education and research, increasing by 53%.

Another worrying statistic points to a 59% increase in ransomware globally compared to last year’s period. Africa was the hardest hit, while the U.S. saw a 1% increase, with average weekly attacks targeting one in 108 companies.

RELATED: Tech security tip: How to remove malware from your phone or computer

What you can do about it

The statistics should be alarming to any business, but private internet users can also fall victim to ransomware. Here are some steps that you can take to minimize the chances of becoming a victim of cybercrime, including ransomware:

  • Continually update your computer’s operating system, your device and installed apps. Vulnerability and security patches plug holes in the system that hackers exploit.
  • Don’t click on links and attachments that you receive in unsolicited emails.
  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible. This creates an additional step for logging into your accounts and keeping your data safe.
  • Never download apps from third-party libraries. These often harbor malware, so instead, you must only download files and apps through the official channels.
  • Have trustworthy antivirus software on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan of TotalAV Internet Security for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!
  • If you think (or want to check) that your email address has been exposed to hackers and sold on the Dark Web, visit the HaveIBeenPwned website. It is a quick tool to check if your details are compromised. Tap or click here to see how it works.

But the best way to protect against ransomware is to have a backup of all your important information. That way, you are never at the mercy of ransomware attacks. Just restore your device to a secure backup, and don’t think about paying a ransom.

But you need a cloud backup service that you can trust. We recommend our sponsor, IDrive.

IDrive protects all your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android devices with just one account. Its versatile and user-friendly platform has made saving and recovering data simple for small businesses and individuals.

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