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What is Ransomware, and How Do I Protect Myself From It?

You’re at work one day, minding your own business, when a huge man walks in through the front door. He’s wearing an expensive overcoat, but that does nothing to hide the prison tattoos along his knuckles, or the prominent knife scar along his face. He’s looking around, nodding approvingly at how successful your operation is. That’s when he leans on the counter, gives you a meaningful look, and says, “This is a nice business you got here. It would be a shame if something bad were to happen to it. Are you interested in buying yourself some peace of mind to be sure this is all protected?”

That is extortion, the practice of obtaining something through threat of force, but like a lot of crimes that used to take place face-to-face, it’s now happening via the Internet. So, instead of a hulking leg-breaker making threats and leaning on you for protection money, now you just get a pop-up on your computer telling you to pay a fee, or all your data will be deleted. The programs that cause these pop-ups are called ransomware, and they’re becoming a huge risk for companies and individuals, both big and small.

What is Ransomware, and How Do I Protect Myself From It?

Ransomware is, in short, a malicious program that infects your computer. The program locks it down, and refuses to give you access to your information until you have paid a certain fee. That fee may be a few hundred dollars, or significantly higher, depending on the particular program. Some ransomware also has a suicide switch built in, so that if you attempt to tamper with the program, or to delete it without paying, it destroys all your files, rendering your computer useless.

Which is the reason it’s important for you to always back up your data, just in case a catastrophe like this befalls you and your business.

When it comes to ransomware, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Once the malicious software is in your system, it may already be too late to fix things without paying. It’s why you need to have a robust virus detection and prevention program keeping you safe, and why you should institute strict policies against visiting unfamiliar sites, downloading any files that aren’t scanned and declared safe, etc. The best way to deal with ransomware is to avoid it entirely, and to be sure that you have as many safeguards between yourself and a possible infection as possible. It will be inconvenient, but it will be a lot safer for your system than trusting to luck and hoping for the best.

Be Suspicious, and Stay Vigilant

Ransomware, just like other malicious programs, adapts and changes over time. What kept you safe from the last incursion won’t, necessarily, filter out the next attack because it will look different, sound different, and require new countermeasures to prevent. In short, the same security system that prevented the last terrorist attack at an airport won’t stop the next attack, because it will be completely different.

That’s why it’s important for you to make sure you have the latest protection regarding ransomware, and to keep an eye on the news about any of the latest attacks. Forewarned is often forearmed when it comes to this particular kind of malware.

For more information on computerized threats currently swimming in the deeper pools of the Internet, simply contact us today! Remember, you can never be too prepared when it comes to ransomware, or to any other sort of malware that will try to shut down your business, or your life.