Jim’s WebLetter for 5/13/17

Hi-ya friends and computing device users!

One of the new Tech words that has grown to be feared worldwide this year is “ransomware”. This is the term used when someone breaks into your computer and blocks you from being able to use it, then demands money to unblock it.  

While it began as being a nuisance to a singular user, hackers are now infecting whole networks and bringing corporations and organizations to a grinding halt.  

This week, it was reported in ZDNet that ransomware infections have been reported across at least 74 countries. One of the latest was the hospital system in England where at least 45 NHS hospital groups across the country were taken offline, forcing that country’s Prime Minister Theresa May to comment on the ransomware incident, describing the hospital cyberattack as part of wider international attack which wasn’t specifically targeting the NHS and that there’s no evidence data has been stolen by hackers. http://www.zdnet.com/article/ransomware-attacks-reported-internationally/

Ransomware isn’t about stealing data, it’s about taking your money. Typically what happens is the victim receives a message that pops up on their computer screen stating the computer has been hijacked and a certain amount of money must be sent to a particular source to allow the computer to be released back to full operation.

Cybersecurity Researchers have detected tens of thousands of instances of the ransomware across the globe, with incidents in the UK, Spain, Russia, China and here in America.  

Those infected with the latest version of “WannaCrypt” ransomware are instructed to pay for the the “Wanna Decryptor” application in order to retrieve their files at the cost of 0.1 Bitcoins – or around $300. This version is known to be more advanced than the original, providing workarounds for the ransomware, just in case anti-malware software is able to remove elements of it.

So, what should you do to protect yourself from a cyber attack?

Such attacks are mostly waged against businesses, but can also affect individuals. Here are some ways to protect yourself from ransomware. 

The best protection is to back up all of the information and files on your devices to a completely separate system. A good place to do this is on an external hard drive that isn’t connected to the internet. This means that if you suffer an attack you won’t lose any information to the hackers.

For ransomware to work, hackers need to download malicious software onto a victims computer. This is then used to launch the attack and encrypt files. Be suspicious when opening unsolicited emails or visiting websites you are unfamiliar with. Never download an app that hasn’t been verified by an official store (Apple or Google), and read reviews before installing programs. 

Antivirus programs can stop ransomware from being downloaded onto computers and can find it when it is. Most antivirus programs can scan files to see if they might contain ransomware before downloading them. They can block secret installations when you’re browsing the web, and look for malware that may already be on a computer or device. 

Always install computer system updates. Companies often release software updates to fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited to install ransomware. Always download the newest version of a software as soon as it is available. 

Finally, security experts advise ransomware attack victims to never pay the fee. There are some programs that can help decrypt files, but the best thing you can do is seek the help of a computer expert to clean your computer, or, if you have a back up, restore your device from that.  

For more about the history of ransomware and steps taken to protect yourself, read … https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ransomware
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That’s it this week. Have a great weekend and may God bless you and keep you safe.

c-ya!
Jim

Jim’s WebLetter

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