Protect yourself from ransomware

Protect Yourself from Ransomware

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.

30 comments on “Protect Yourself from Ransomware”

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  1. thibus agbasse wrote on

    c’est bon que j’aime ça


  2. tigger wrote on

    Very informative from an unusual angle too, and yet not surprising that companies are inflicting this for greedy amoral business ethics. Why are they allowed to do it is beyond my comprehension – you would think the formation of the new international cyber crime organizations would be shutting down the businesses who are paying to have it done or doing it themselves. Make the fine big enough to bankrupt the company responsible and that itself should be a big enough deterrent. A few years ago when they discovered some software companies were creating viruses / malware just so they could sell the virus software should have been treated more harshly then. Maybe they wouldn’t have decided it was appropriate and ethical to go this step further. Its disgusting – whether its on the innocent public or other businesses. These perpetrators are the lowest form of human life, and deserve to be thrown in jail because I believe they have to be sociopaths. There is no other possible explanation for the complete lack of conscience and clearly their enjoyment of inflicting pain on others.


    1. Victor Stelein wrote on

      As horrible as what they are doing is, you should not throw around the word sociopath like that. Unconscionable as these perverted coders may be, human beings have been doing evil to one another for far longer than the idea of the sociopath has even been in existence. It does not take a sociopath to be a bully, or the mean kid the kicked your shin. People sometimes just suck. Please avoid the words sociopath and psychopath hence forth. This psychopath is quite calm, caring, and kind. Your education is showing.


      1. Drake wrote on

        Well this depressed, anxiety-ridden, neurotic with severe anger issues has decided that any asshat that uses any form of extortion deserves to be impaled – with a softwood stake because they absorb more fluid from the body causing it to fall slower, plus there is an increased risk of splinters.

        P.S. : you REALLY don’t want to hear my ideas for what to do with politicians…..


      2. Mitchell wrote on

        We are in an age in which words are freely redefined. Being self-absorbed in social situations is now a type of autism, and engaging in feminine roleplay means you are actually a woman. So it should be no surprise that someone can call themselves a “psychopath”, say they are nonetheless “caring and kind”, and then preemptively berate anyone who might disagree, by chiding them about their “education” – though whether this means that their education is lacking, or that they have failed to see through their education, I cannot tell.

        Anyway, it seems that Psychopath Pride is now a thing, and that there are now self-proclaimed psychopaths who want to strip the word of its negative connotations. To which I respond: get real. A psychopath, in popular discourse, is a mean bastard who will lie and steal and kill without remorse – for example. If all that you mean is that you retain a certain emotional distance from people, please find a better word. Don’t join the language hooligans who make up their own meanings and then expect everyone else to submit.


        1. No worry. wrote on

          It’s quite interesting that there is so many people who wish to “get involved” and chime in on all sides of a topic with their opinions in situations they’ve never been through nor were they there ever to have an actual valid opinion. They seem to be lending their vote of confidence towards whatever way the majority sway’s.


        2. Simple Solutions wrote on

          You are spot on.


  3. Lavi lerner wrote on



    1. Deth wrote on

      i wont use in my office


  4. ndewji wrote on



  5. Dan wrote on

    Awesome podcast! I’ll follow you on Spotify! Keep talking.


  6. ridiculous people wrote on

    of course ! how could i be so stupid! i should do every FORCE update software makers make me do ! specially those that come from microsoft google , android whatsapp, apple, because there so angelical and never want anything out of people, they never ask for money if you force update and also the updates themselves never force make you change your devices! so that you can pay them more money for the shit they make….thank you so much for opening my eyes , Im gonna start doing what microsoft and co. tell me to do …God forbid they should ever want to control me or RANSOMWARE ME in a more polite way


  7. Sergey wrote on

    Thanks for good information.
    I had a problems with my OS Windows 5 years ago…
    Despite I had an antivirus program on my PC, bad thing happened with me :
    At one disgusting day I had a picture on my monitor with following inscription:
    “We will not remove this until you pay us”. Picture was almost as broad as my screen.
    Because of this non-removable picture I was unable to work, unable to start any program. I was very angry.My praised antivirus was simply helpless (against this usual ransomware)!
    That’s why I made crucial solution: removed Windows and started to use Linux Ubuntu.And viruses doesn’t affect me now.


    1. justanothercerber3 wrote on

      is There anyone who can tell me about cerber3 ransomware file decryptor… any help will be appreciated.


  8. rides wrote on

    Thank you for your article. Very enlightening. Just this year I’ve experienced the same thing. Someone was trying to sell some anti-virus software by having control of my computer….pretending to be some legit customer support of Microsoft. He almost had me. But when he said the price….I then realized it must be some kind of a scam. He tried several times to con me but failed. So he stopped. But just a few days ago, he tried but failed again.


  9. Robert Sadler wrote on

    The personal computer was first created in the early 1980’s and yet, nearly forty years later, we’re still not able to write a decent operating system that is free of “security flaws” and that can protect itself. What the ding-dong have we been doing all this time? Playing computer games and yakking on the social media, instead of working?

    Partly, but the real reason is money. Bad and flawed programs and operating systems ensure continual upgrades, even if the hardware is never replaced. For example, Windows XP does pretty much everything anyone wants from a working computer, yet these machines must now have their operating systems upgraded due to security flaws in XP; with the lateral consequence that many of the programs currently used on this XP machine, will not work with the new operating system. Money.


    1. Anonymous Penguin wrote on

      Robert, what you said is probably true for companies like Microsoft and Apple. But no OS is fully secure, not Linux, not OpenBSD.

      Even more importantly, while we can make machines robust to an extent, people themselves aren’t infallible. That is why, more and more attacks involve social engineering these days.


      1. Robert Sadler wrote on

        Never had this problem with typewriters.


  10. B K wrote on

    “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.”

    I would add “make regular backups” to this list: Make backups on an external drive and disconnect the drive after the backup is completed. After all, they can’t encrypt what they can’t access.


    1. B R wrote on

      I think this is the best of them all. And you have several of them!


  11. Brad wrote on

    I have updated Windows 10 (it’s auto-updated, you know) and updated Firefox browser, but somehow I got infected with WannaCry ransomware.

    As I normal person, I do regular backup of my files, also use cloud storage backups – Dropbox and pCloud.

    Lucky for me the last one – pCloud save my files.

    First, I tried to get my files back from Dropbox backup. They have file versioning option, but I had over 5k infected files! Dropbox cloud copy was infected as well – it just synced infected files from my computer to the cloud.

    Then I read on quora about how to restore your files from ransomware, someone posted long post about pCloud option called pCloud Rewind.

    So, it saves my files – in short it’s like a time machine, you can restore ALL your files to an early state just with a click. Besides that I just started to discover a lot of options this cloud has.

    Victim or not, you should prepare for ransomware. Common sense backup is a must. Just find your easy, daily solution.

    Take care!


  12. Tonya Harvey wrote on

    This was very informative. Please continue to put out this type of knowledge to us internet consumers. We need to know these things! Internet hacking is getting out of hand!


  13. Sigh wrote on

    Saddest commentary about our ineffective government and policing: where are the millions of dollars we spend on policing and military? Why aren’t some of them on the web locating and eliminating these ransomware con artists and their bosses? Credit companies know about these scams better than anyone else as that’s where some of their con job charges are disputed. Even the big industry boys and girls are in on softer versions of the same things– by using data against whom they collect them from–in the name of constant analyzing of data, analytic divisions, market research, upgrading software, outsourcing of American jobs to incompetent workers who don’t know what they are doing while wasting American customers’ time and by even trying subtly to make them into paying repair customers!


    1. Jaystings wrote on

      As an intern for a subcontractor for the FBI and DoD, I can assure you that there ARE, “some of them on the web locating and eliminating these ransomware con artists and their bosses.” You sound pretty hysterical at the end there, which is just the sort of thing these crooks exploit. Just know that most of the research is to your benefit, and those, “analytic divisions, market research, [and] upgrading software,” is in RESPONSE to the cyber-attacks. Don’t be such a scared old fart!


  14. lonnie wrote on

    have not gotten it so far will try


  15. Cryptolover wrote on

    I think a normal internetuser have never learned things about cryptology, trafficanalysis or about safe backups so that cannot be hacked from a cybercrime activity over the internet. If you buy a big harddrive and copy all your data on this device and store the device without any internetconnection in a safe so you have won the fight with an potencial attacker. He can destroy all your data or uses encryption, destroy your operatingsystem, but you can play it all back without any loss of data everytimes. You can also control what service of your system talks with the internet about special software for control that things or you control this with operating systemtools like netstat and co. All the automatic updates from systems not really safe a system everytimes. But for other ways you must understand what do you do with the system, you need experience. And thats a coreproblem. So the concerns will do it for u, for a normal user, but an attacker can also hacking automatically updateprocesses or uses new security holes in commercial-software. So you never get 100% secure. And the biggest desaster is theoretically a manipulated automatically update or other masshacking from a software, that works on much pcs / phones / iot-devices around the world. For Example, every it-system uses software “x” with a softwarerelease 1.00, so this software becomes a worldwide securityupdate on 1.01 and a hidden trojan is in that update, bäng… also very very dangerous and a big risk.


  16. P3t3r wrote on

    just tell them to take ur files get new windows and the life goes on


  17. Lurkalot wrote on

    Firefox has been come the most left wing on line infiltrated web browers on line , sorry… till you clean your selve as a long time user of firefox I will only use you now and again .you are not to be trusted . As far as I am concerned you fair no better than Fake CNN BBC and their ILK, You consistantly block web uncensored assess . You have become to communist for my liking .You get a massive thumbs down from me .


  18. Dr.Naseer Khan wrote on

    I thoroughly studied and fund best knowledge and information and appreciate you for awareness


  19. Dr.Naseer Khan wrote on

    I studied thoroughly and found it best and appreciate you heartily


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