Ransomware has become one of the biggest threats to data stored on computers and other devices, with recent attacks causing havoc for personal users, businesses, healthcare providers and even airports.
Protecting your computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices is crucial for helping to protect against data loss, identity theft and even financial loss.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software) that can encrypt files, folders and even whole drives. Once the files have been encrypted, users are unable to access them without an encryption key. Ransomware can affect any computer or device connected to a network and may even be able to encrypt files kept in cloud storage.
How Does Ransomware Work?
If your system is infected with ransomware, you will usually see a message on your screen demanding a ransom for the return of your files. Ransoms are often paid through anonymous cryptocurrency, but some users are asked to make cash drops in a public area or to send money to other locations. Once the ransom has been paid, some people are able to access their files, while others receive an encryption key or software to restore encrypted data. However, this is not always the case, as cybercriminals have no reason to restore access to files once they have received a payment.
How Can I Protect Against Ransomware?
Ransomware is often downloaded with software packages and mobile apps found on third-party websites, so it's important to download any software from reputable websites. Ransomware can also be downloaded with legitimate applications found on infected websites and sometimes even in trusted app stores, so you need to install adequate security software to protect against malware.
It's also important to update your operating system, software and mobile apps regularly, as software updates contain the most recent patches to protect against known security issues. In addition, you can protect against data loss by regularly backing up your files to an external device.
Ransomware has become more widespread in recent years, affecting both personal and business users. You can protect your computers and devices with security software, although this does not always provide full protection against malware.
The best way to limit the damage caused by ransomware is to keep backups of your files in a safe place. Security experts recommend that people with infected systems should not pay the ransom, as there's no guarantee the files will be restored.
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