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Ransomware: What It Is and How to Avoid It

By Bob Lewis-Basson

How serious a problem is ransomware? According to Symantec, makers of the popular Norton suite of cyber security products, hackers employing the ransomware tactic are making millions of pounds every year. In one particular case they studied, 168 infected users paid a total of £27,064 on just one day alone. Ransomware is big business among hackers who know how to deploy it.

Ransomware: What It Is

Ransomware is a kind of malware that can be embedded on a computer, mobile device or even within a cloud environment. It uses some sort of threat or intimidation to extort payment of a fine. Hackers can completely lock users out, encrypt data so it cannot be accessed, or take sensitive data and spread it across the internet for public scrutiny. The malware uses cryptovirology (the practice of using cryptography to spread malicious software) to get in and take over a device or cloud environment.

The most common form of ransomware is one that encrypts data so it cannot be accessed. Victimised users tend to be more than willing to pay the ransom under the false belief that no one else but the hackers responsible can undo the damage. Rest assured that this is not the case. Security experts are very good at successfully addressing ransomware attacks.

How to Avoid Being a Victim

As a specialist providing IT support for small business, I can say without question that avoiding ransomware is a matter of taking some simple steps to protect yourself. The first thing to understand is that ransomware cannot be installed on your computer by itself. It finds a home by way of malicious downloads, opening infected advertisements, or following links in e-mail.

There are four simple strategies to prevent being victimised:

Never visit untrusted websites for any reason whatsoever

Never click on pop-up ads; use caution with embedded adverts

Never click links embedded in e-mails even if an e-mail looks legitimate, unless you trust or know the sender

Always maintain an up-to-date security suite that includes anti-virus, anti-intrusion, and so on.

The last of the four strategies is the most important. Makers of security suites spend their days identifying and combating all sorts of malware, including ransomware. They issue regular updates that, when applied, will protect most people from being victimised.

For more information about my IT business support services, please feel free to contact me at any time. I would be more than happy to provide a comprehensive health check of your IT system to help you identify potential issues and improve performance.

[Sources: Norton –]

For further information or assistance in this area call Bob Lewis-Basson – 0780 244 1728 –

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