4 ways to protect yourself from ransomware attacks

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Worried about being the victim of ransomware? Here's how to protect yourself. (Photo: Getty)
Worried about being the victim of ransomware? Here's how to protect yourself. (Photo: Getty)

Ransomware attacks are on the rise. Most recently, there was a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which left the East coast with a fuel shortage — and which forced the company to pay hackers $5 million. But what exactly is ransomware? In short, ransomware is a program that appears in the form of a virus or an executable file that overtakes a computer or network, locks out its users, and then demands payment for its return.

According to CNET, the warning signs of malware can include:

  • Ads that pop up everywhere, no matter what browser or window you’re using at the time.

  • After you download or install an app, the icon disappears.

  • Your battery life is much shorter than it used to be.

Shop it: Malwarebytes Premium Multi-Device, 30-day free trial then $4.99 a month, subscriptions.yahoo.com

Ransomware is a huge threat to consumers, and it’s a threat that’s getting bigger every day. So it’s vital that you protect yourself against ransomware. In January, the U.S. Cybersecurity, Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) launched the Reduce the Risk of Ransomware Campaign, which aims to raise awareness of and fight against the threat of ransomware. Here are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself and also make sure your business is safe:

Tip #1: Back up your data

Backing up your hard drive on a regular basis is important so you don't lose your data and personal information. There are several different ways to back up your data, such as using an external hard drive or cloud storage. The manner in which you back up your data is not as important as making sure that you do it regularly.

Tip #2: Protect your computer

Computer viruses and malware are rampant these days and if you don’t have proper protection, you could end up losing all of your data or even have your computer become unusable. The best way to protect against malware is to use a powerful antivirus software, such as Malwarebytes. As anti-malware software, Malwarebytes is designed to detect and block malicious activities and help protect you from a variety of sophisticated cyberthreats, including malware, such as spyware and adware, viruses, online scams, phishing sites, and ransomware.

Shop it: Malwarebytes Premium Multi-Device, 30-day free trial then $4.99 a month, subscriptions.yahoo.com

Installing powerful antivirus software can help protect your computer. (Photo: Getty)
Installing powerful antivirus software can help protect your computer. (Photo: Getty)

Tip #3: Keep your computer and its software up-to-date

This is especially important, the CISA warns, for devices that have what’s known as an "end of life" date. The date, determined by the manufacturer, is when a machine will no longer be eligible to receive software updates. This leaves consumers with older tech that's vulnerable to ransomware attacks, as new protections won’t work on old machines. If your computer has reached its end of life date, it may be time to consider purchasing a new one.

Tip #4: Be careful what you click and download

The CISA recommends consumers practice what’s commonly known as cyber hygiene, which means only downloading software from trusted websites. What’s more, the agency cautions users to maintain a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to clicking links in emails or random text messages. Clicking sketchy links can leave you open to malware and scam artists stealing your info, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card or bank account details. Hackers do this by sending misleading communiques in which they disguise themselves as a reputable institution or organization.

Shop it: Malwarebytes Premium Multi-Device, 30-day free trial then $4.99 a month, subscriptions.yahoo.com

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