It's a crazy time in the world of cybersecurity. Computer viruses aren't the only things threatening your online security these days. Now, there are several risks you take each time you surf the web or make a purchase.
That's why you need to know about these three top threats to your finances, privacy and personal data.
The current king of malware threats is ransomware. This attack takes your computer files hostage by locking and encrypting them unless you pay the cybercriminals a specified amount.
And it looks like this business is booming. Likely due to ransomware's profitability, the number of attacks rose greatly last year, making it the fastest growing threat in recent memory.
There are different variants of ransomware and we've covered much of them. There's Locky, Cryptolocker, PowerWare, Delilah, RAA, and the recent massive attack dubbed WannaCry. They basically fall into two categories: crypto ransomware and locker ransomware.
Cryptos are designed to encrypt certain types of files or extensions. Common file targets are videos, photos, Microsoft Office documents and PDFs. Locker ransomware locks out computer components, like your screen, or even entire systems.
Ransomware's scope is widening too. Criminals are reportedly casting a wider net by increasingly targeting individuals and smaller companies with smaller ransom amounts. It has been spotted on smartphones and tablets so it seems like no one is safe.
Different strains, changing vectors, but basically the same modus operandi - pay up or say goodbye to your precious files.
How to protect yourself against ransomware
The best way to defeat a ransomware attack is to take precautionary steps. Here are suggestions that will help:
- Back up data regularly - this is the best way to recover your critical data if your computer is infected with ransomware.
- 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 - don't open attachments from unsolicited emails, it could be a phishing scam. Ransomware can infect your gadget through malicious links found in phishing emails. Can you spot one? Take our phishing IQ test to find out.
- Do NOT enable macros - You should never download PDF, Word or Excel files attached to unsolicited emails to begin with. If you do open one of these documents and it says that you need to turn on macros, close the file and delete it immediately.
- Have strong security software - this will help prevent the installation of ransomware on your gadget.
Backing up your critical data is an important safety precaution in the fight against ransomware. It's the best way to recover your files without paying a ransom.
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