Ransomware: Your #1 Threat Online & How to Defend Yourself

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If you’re paying attention, you’ve noticed the steady stream of news around hacking and cybersecurity. And if you’re one more step engaged, you’ll notice a hot buzzword that incites great fear into those who know it’s a lurking threat:

Ransomware.

“The past 12 months have seen ransomware reach a new level of maturity and menace,” Symantec said in a 2016 report on ransomware and businesses. Can you hear the screams? Yikes.

As I was doing some research last week, I was surprised to learn that you and me - the consumer - are a more likely victim of ransomware, accounting for 57% of all infections between Jan. 2015 and April 2016.

That’s not all. The virality of the malware and the price keeps going up exponentially, year after year. The average ransom in 2016 stands at $679 USD, more than doubling from $294 in 2015.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to pay a hacker almost $700 for files or photos that I am not even guaranteed to get back, when there is an easy, affordable action that only 20% of people do:

Regularly backing up your files. If you are infected with ransomware or crypto malware, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to even consider paying because you have everything on your computer is securely backed up, and up-to-date. High-five! Feels good, doesn’t it?

I assumed that businesses were the likely target. In fact, I personally know a local ad agency who got infected with Russian crypto malware. This hacker demanded a ransom, and because they decided not to pay it, they completely lost all their creative files, intellectual property and work on a server.

The FBI put out a PSA on Ransomeware in Sept. 2016, listing ways you can defend yourself or your business near the end.

I came to this by way of security expert and author Brian Krebs, who wrote a spot on anecdote about a financial services company that was hit with ransomware, and while the demand wasn’t that high, they didn’t have backups and the files were worth tens of millions of dollars! It’s a real threat businesses need to take action on to protect themselves - it’s only going to happen more and more.

Don't be scared, be prepared

So don’t be scared of ransomware or hackers, just be prepared. Whether you’re looking for ransomware prevention, protection, or defense, want to avoid a hard drive failure or another catastrophic data loss scenario, backing up your data is one of the smartest decisions you will ever make! Take 15 minutes today to protect your most important files, folders, photos, movies, music, you name it.

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Sources: Symantec Ransomware and Businesses 2016