Have you been hacked, or do you know someone who has? People make the internet vibrant, but we’re also the weakest link. We’re predictable, and often easily fooled. And, as malicious software threats are indeed present on the Internet, it’s important for us to be able to spot them before we fall victim.
One form of malware that’s received lots of press coverage lately — due to WannaCry and Petya attacks — is ransomware. Ransomware is software created by actual people who use it to make a profit via extortion. Internet users receive a message (often a pop-up), and the software takes over your keyboard, computer or phone. It then blocks access to your files and data until you pay ransom. Usually, the ransom is asked for in bitcoin so that it’s not trackable, and the ransom monetary ask increases the longer you wait to pay it.
While you may not be able to completely eliminate your risk of falling victim to ransomware, there are certainly things you can do to to protect yourself from attacks. Specifically: update your software and get to know the ransomware industry.
Update Your Software
You could drive around with old, burned-out brake lights on your car, but it would make driving more dangerous than it should be. And if we all did that, it would get really dangerous, fast! Updating to the latest security software, browser, and operating system provides an important defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
If you’re not sure where to begin, go here for instructions on how to update your Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, or Browser software.
Get to Know the Ransomware Industry
The ransomware industry is made up of hackers — and even businesses — who have tried and true methods of getting people to fall for ransomware. In fact, F-Secure, a Helsinki-based security company, recently published a report on just how professional and savvy ransomware customer service agents are these days. Their report — Evaluating the Customer Journey of Crypto-Ransomware and the Paradox Behind It — exposes how ransomware businesses use tech support channels, online forums, and streamlined Websites to trick people into thinking they’re legitimate businesses trying to help.
You’ve heard the saying before, but it rings especially true for protecting yourself against ransomware: knowledge is power. If you can learn to spot technical support scammers, their customer service schemes, and get to know the motivations behind ransomware, you’ll be better able to protect yourself.
In Hack Jobs, our most recent episode of IRL: Online Life is Real Life, host Veronica Belmont explores all of the above, and also meets some of the unsung heroes fighting to keep us safe.
Listen to Hack Jobs with the player above, on our Website, or wherever else you get your podcasts.