Ransomware is a growing concern. This malicious cyber threat locks down a system or encrypts the files requiring a ransom to be paid to regain access. Data rich organizations, like hospitals and universities are prime targets. Typically ransoms are low enough to make paying a more attractive solution than fighting. However, the FBI does not recommend paying ransom because it encourages cyber thieves. Ransom payment is in done in bitcoin, a digital currency that is unregulated and untraceable. Beware: sometimes criminals do not provide the decryption key after receiving payment.

Become more cyber savvy. Learn these ransomware facts:

  • Often delivered by phishing emails with malicious attachments or spoofed links, or dodgy websites.
  • Targets organizations of all types and sizes plus individuals as well.
  • Shared files, like Google Drive, Dropbox and other shared drives, are at risk. If someone accidentally clicks on a phishing email or a bad link ransomware can lock out all users.

What to do if confronted with ransomware:

  1. Stop all activity on your computer
  2. Disconnect your computer from intranet, internet or WiFi
  3. Immediately contact your designated IT staff for assistance

How to protect yourself:

  1. Regularly back-up all personal files - documents, pictures, etc.
  2. Install good antivirus, firewall and antimalware on personal computers, smartphones & tablets.
  3. Keep all software up to date by turning on auto updates
  4. Use secure websites when doing transactions (check for the "S" in https)
  5. Scrutinize emails - don't click on "phishy" links or unusual attachments
  6. Don't use public WiFi for any transactions (email, shopping, etc.)

User Awareness is part of a good defense against phishing, malware and ransomware. Educate yourself to improve your ability to identify and avoid cyber traps. Read more by going to the links in the "Resources" section or go back to "Effective Practices".