Finger silhouette gripping and pulling red ransomware word from monitor filled with binary code.

What is Ransomware?









Ransomware is a type of software that installs on your computer for the purpose of causing harm which is also known as "malware". Ransomeware prevents you from accessing files on your computer unless you pay a ransom.

In order to help you avoid this type of threat to your documents, photographs, and other digital content on your computers, we are recommending the following tips to avoid these ransomware infections:

  • Don’t open emails from people you aren’t expecting emails from. Ransomware is most often distributed through email scams. Your best defense is to simply not open emails from people that you don’t know or emails that you aren’t expecting.
  • Be suspicious of all emails. Just like checking both directions before crossing a street, even at marked crosswalks, it's safest if you look at each email you receive as being a potential car coming down the street. Is it going to stop? Does this email look like something I would normally receive?
  • Don’t open attachments unless you were expecting them. Even if the attachment is from someone that you know, their email account may already be compromised and forwarding malware without their knowledge. If you weren’t already expecting something from them, call them and verify they sent it.
  • Don’t click on any link in an email. Ever. Rather than following the link in the email, open a browser and search for the website manually. Did you receive an email from FedEx to check the status of your delivery? Don’t click on the link in the email. Go to fedex.com and click on the "Find My Package" link directly.
  • Back up your files. Keep your important files backed up to a removable storage device (i.e., a thumb drive) or online Cloud storage. Do not keep these connected to your computer. Only use the thumb drive or connect to your Cloud backup when you’re actually doing a backup. Otherwise the ransomware virus will encrypt them too.
  • Keep your computer software updated. If your computer isn’t already setup for Automatic Updates to the operating system and key systems (Microsoft Office, Adobe, your favorite photo viewing software, etc.), change that as soon as possible. Microsoft regularly releases inoculations to the operating system that will prevent this type of infection.

Ransomware has returned to the forefront of our computer threat landscape

Recently, a hacking tool created by the US government to help in spying on other countries was accidentally leaked to the public. Some scammers were able to use these tools to create a new version of ransomware that is infecting computers around the world. As we’ve shared before, the point of ransomware is to lock you out of the files on your computer unless you pay the scammers a ransom. Hundreds of thousands of computers around the world have already been infected. Once infected, there is little that you can do. But fortunately Microsoft has already figured out how this hacking tool works and have updated their software to inoculate your computer against this virus. All you have to do is update your operating system. If you haven’t already turned on automatic updates for your Windows (or Mac), you should do it right away. That will help you to defend yourself against this virus. It’s also a good idea to create another backup of your computer.

 

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