Ransomware Protection Tips

In 2020, ransomware inflicted damages of over $20 billion worldwide according to the Cyber Crime & Security website. Cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years with ransomware attacks, crafting them uniquely for each target. With technology and the internet being an integral part of daily life, it’s important to understand potential risks and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

How It Happens
Ransomware is a type of malware that can be delivered through a phishing message. When the recipient falls for the phish, the process of infecting the device begins and initiates a connection back to the attacker’s device to initiate encrypting the device.

Once encryption is completed, the user is locked out of their data and the device. At this point, a ransomware note is displayed, and a ransom is demanded to regain access to the owner’s data and system. Criminals can start a ransomware attack in a variety of ways. Examples include:

  • Scam emails with links and attachments that put your data and network at risk. You’re on your computer and you receive a pop-up window saying your computer has been infected and to click on a link. If you click on the fraudulent link, you open the door for cyber criminals to access your device and, in some cases demand a ransom in exchange for not sharing your information.
  • Infected websites that automatically download malicious software onto your computer. Website users may notice the following symptoms if they have experienced an infected website: the website does not work properly, error messages and warnings are displayed on the website, or a computer exhibits strange behavior after visiting the infected website. The infection can go unnoticed for a long period of time, especially in the case of more sophisticated malware.
  • Online ads that contain malicious code – even on websites you know and trust. Cybercriminals can launch “malvertising” attacks by buying ad space from advertising networks and then submitting infected images with malicious code. Once you click on the ad, you allow criminals to load and infect your computer before the malicious ads are discovered and removed.

Stay Protected
Follow these tips to protect yourself, your personal information and your computer.

  • Do not open emails form someone you don’t know or that you aren’t expecting to receive.
  • Business owners should have a plan for how your business will stay up and running in the event of an attack. Put this plan in writing and share it across the organization.
  • Don’t brows suspicious sites. Cybercriminals count on users mistyping the name of a legitimate site. These sites are made to look like the legitimate site but are used to deliver malware to the device.
  • Back up your data by regularly saving important files to a drive or server that’s not connected to your network. Make data backup part of a regular routine.
  • Keep your security up to date with the latest patches and updates. Look for additional means of protection, like email authentication and intrusion prevention software.
  • Alert friends, family and co-workers about techniques to avoid phishing scams and show them some of the common ways computers and devices become infected.

For more fraud protection tips, visit FCCUFoundation.org.

You can also view previous segments of Money Minute on the First Commerce web site at FirstCommerceCU.org/MoneyMinute.

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