Ransomware Trickery, and How to Avoid It

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The number one enemy in malware according to computer experts strikes again. Ransomware is attacking computers world-wide, and the latest cyberattacks have been popping up at an unprecedented rate.

Encrypting your data, and making you pay dearly for a chance to get it back. That’s ransomware.

“It is specifically intended to extract ransomware from you after it encrypts all of your data files,” says Libby Wyrick, owner of Systems House. “So depending on how valuable your data files are, it can be quite devastating.”

Government organizations, big companies, and individuals are all under attack world-wide. Current attacks are hitting users at an unprecedented rate.

“The ransomware that is usually in the headlines is when it hits a large organization like this one recently did,” says Wyrick.

It’s not a new form of online trickery, but it can be pretty easy to fall for.

“The method is actually fairly old. A lot of people already know to be very skeptical, and not open emails that they don’t recognize, or specifically don’t open attachments,” says Wyrick.

Schools are no exception. At Rose-Hulman, they’ve got a plan in place to keep students protected.

“When Microsoft issues updates to the Windows Operating System, we make sure that we update all of our systems across campus,” says Michael Gioia, an information security officer at Rose-Hulman.

Something as simple as a computer update can actually keep you protected.

“The vulnerability that this ransomware is exploiting actually was fixed in an update to the Microsoft systems in March,” says Gioia.

But for those who didn’t update, how trustworthy are these information thieves? There’s a good chance if you pay the ransom, you will get your data back.

“It kind of would be bad business practice if they didn’t end up unlocking the files for you if you didn’t pay,” says Gioia.

But at Rose, they won’t be paying anyways.

“The FBI and if people fall victim here, we never pay the ransom. We just restore from back up, and hopefully there isn’t much lost data,” says Gioia.

Gioria says Windows users are under attack, and not Mac users. That’s because there are more windows users world-wide, which means hackers have a bigger chance of getting returns on their ransom demands.

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