Protecting Your Laptop or PC from Ransomware

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Once upon a time, people sailing the high seas had to cast a weather eye on the horizon for pirates. The good old Jolly Roger was a sure sign there’d be rough sailing ahead for ships caught unaware. Today’s pirates have found a new bounty to plunder via the World Wide Web and will hold your personal data, family photos, bank records, and more hostage until you pay their ransom. These techno-pirates can accomplish, with a few lines of code, what took days, weeks, or longer of hard sailing and sacrifice to manage on the high seas of old. But there are things you can do to protect yourself, your information, and your hardware from these modern versions of pirates. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that holds a computer’s data hostage, through encryption, until specific demands, usually cash payments, are met. While once reserved for specific high-profile targets, ransomware attacks have become more commonplace generating billions of dollars in payments to cybercriminals each year.

Unfortunately, while attackers promise to release the information once their payment of other demands has been met, recent cases have shown this isn’t always the case. In some instances, victims who met the demands of attackers did not have access to their data restored to them afterward.

With that in mind, robust ransomware protection is the only solution to provide lasting protection of your important data, family photos, and other computer data.

How Do Computers Become Infected with Ransomware?

There are multiple ways your computer can become infected with ransomware. Two of the most common are as follows:

  1. Emails containing malicious attachments.
  2. Drive-by downloading when you visit certain infected websites.

There are other methods of infection and technology is constantly evolving. This is one reason that it is important to invest in ransomware protection that consistently updates to protect against the newest threats.

How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware Attacks?

Prevention is always the best cure. Barring that, however, there are things you can do to minimize your vulnerability to a ransomware attack. These are a few important steps to take to surf the World Wide Web a little more safely and make you less vulnerable should a ransomware attack occur.

  • Back up your data daily. Not only does this ensure you have a recent copy of most of your data, but it also reduces your temptation to pay out the ransom for your information. In fact, consider making at least three backup copies using two different media types with one backup stored in a separate location.
  • Don’t open emails with attachments or click on embedded links in emails without first verifying them and ensuring they are from a trusted source.
  • Keep your backup data secure. More importantly, keep it in a different location and make sure that backup systems for your data don’t permit access to the backup files.
  • Use ransomware protection software and update it frequently. The more up-to-date your software is, the better defense it provides against the latest methods of attack.
  • Don’t use networks that aren’t secure. Install a VPN on your laptop and home computer and avoid public Wi-Fi connections unless your VPN is actively protecting your device.

There is no foolproof method that will allow you to avoid all potential ransomware attacks. But there are things you can do if you fall victim to one of these attacks despite your best efforts to prevent them. Even the most cautious of sailors, for instance, have fallen prey to pirates over the centuries, after all.

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One thing you don’t want to do, if at all possible, is to reward those who have perpetrated this crime against you with payment. Instead, turn to experts who have the knowledge and the technical talent to help you regain control of your computer, your network, and your information. Besides, payment isn’t a guarantee that your computer and data will ultimately be restored to you. The other problem with paying the ransom is that it won’t be long before other attackers (or even the same attackers) target you in hopes of receiving a payday now that you’ve shown a willingness and ability to pay.

The best solution is to protect yourself in every possible way and keep a low profile online. That makes you less of a target for ransomware attacks and helps you minimize your exposure if an attack occurs. From software that provides ransomware protection to preventative actions like daily backups and practicing caution with your online activities, you can prevent a surprising number of possible attacks from occurring. Keep these things in mind as you navigate the World Wide Web in hopes that you can avoid attacks from these modern-day pirates of the Internet.

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