A recent attack on a North Carolina municipality and complaints from individuals shows that ransomware is a threat to both business and personal systems. This computer virus sneaks into your system and takes your files hostage, holding them for ransom. Now that ransomware is more commonplace, chances are it could hit you or someone you know. Here’s how to protect your files well in advance of a possible attack.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware shows up in plain sight. The virus is often initiated when a person clicks on a legitimate-looking email. This action sets of a chain of negative events. Also, some malicious Microsoft Office documents trick users into enabling macros — a type of computer command — and downloading the virus. In addition, it’s possible to be infected through ads on websites. These ads may not need user interaction to infect a machine.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, once launched, the virus freezes your screen. Next, a pop-up message says you violated a federal law and your computer will remain locked until you pay a fine. Or a pop-up message says your personal files have been encrypted and you have to pay to get the decryption key. The ransom amount typically ranges from about $200 to $5,000.
Proper, prior preparation
You can’t predict when or if your system will be attacked. But an ounce of preparation goes a long way.
• Use the Microsoft Office viewer tool to prevent macros from being downloaded.
• Back up your files regularly to a removable drive.
• Don’t click on web ads or unsolicited emails.
• Use ad blocking software to keep out unwanted ads.
• Enable all software patches.
• Monitor all financial accounts against fraud.
Use these tips to help protect against a possible ransomware attack.
Article provided by Local Government Federal Credit Union.