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Ransomware is a hot topic of 2016. By now you probably know what it is – when hackers use software to take control of a computer and either lock it up entirely or just the files. The hackers demand a ransom anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars to unlock the data. Attacks are directed at everyone: individuals, SMBs, large corporations, government institutions. Neither PCs nor Macs are safe from this threat, and reports of smartphones becoming infected have begun to surface.



Two of the most common ways for your system to become infected with this malware are email and websites. Reduce your risk of getting hit up by ransomware at home or at work with these tips.

Malicious Email

Ransomware can be downloaded with a single click or tap. The link is disguised to look like something legitimate and paired with compelling writing designed to manipulate you into clicking the link or downloading a file. Emails are disguised to look like they’re coming from people in your contact list, or well-known and trusted companies, banks, and government departments.

Before you click on anything, take a look at the message. Clear signs of malicious email include an abundance of poor grammar or spelling, generic messages like, “I thought you would like this,” and general greetings such as, “Dear friend,”. One of the latest schemes is “proof” that you have committed a traffic offense. But malicious intent is not always clear.

Consider how likely it is that you would receive this message via email. Is this email address even the one that you signed up for online services with? When in doubt go directly to the company’s website and contact customer service to find out whether the too-good-to-be-true deal or alarming alert is real. Call, text, or send a new email to anyone in your contacts if you aren’t convinced they really want you to see their photos.

Hacked Websites and Advertising

Hackers can also change legitimate website links so that they look the same on the website but take visitors to another one that looks almost identical. They can also create malicious ads (malvertising) that do the same. Before entering login information check in the address bar that the URL starts with the more secure https:// and not just http://. Hover your cursor over a link or an ad and see in the information pop-up what the final destination really is.

You may also encounter pop-up ads that claim you have already been infected with a virus or that you’re being monitored by government authorities. Before you click on anything on that screen find out if it’s true by calling your IT department or restarting your machine.

What do you do if you’re machine or network become compromised? Contact police and your IT department. The use of ransomware is a crime.

The best way to defend your system against ransomware is with a regularly-updated and maintained business continuity solution like the one we use by Datto. Secure backups go a long way if your files are missing in action. For more information read our blog post. Contact Polarverse at (519) 489-0646 to learn how easy it is to implement and maintain a secure and complete continuity system.

Get our new eBook:  “The Essential Cyber security Toolkit for SMBs

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