Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that cyber criminals can install on your computer, enabling them to hold your files for ransom. They use a variety of means to do this, including email attachments, fake websites, and phony ads. They're counting on you opening their attachment, or clicking on links within their emails or on a website. But, no need to feel foolish if you've ever done this — the fakes can be very convincing.
Be Aware – Ransomware Posing As Windows Update
The latest ransomware scam is called Fantom and is particularly pernicious. Here's why:
Once it's installed, you'll receive a notice informing you that your files have been encrypted, and you need to pay a ransom before the criminals will unencrypt them. You can pay the ransom, and the bad guys may unencrypt your files. A better strategy is to ignore the request for a ransom and just restore your backed up files; this is one reason regular backups are so important.
- It poses as a Windows update that you need to install.
- It looks realistic, complete with the Microsoft copyright and "critical update" file name.
- It locks up all your files and prevents you from using your computer while it's "downloading."
But the best strategy is to avoid the ransomware in the first place; you can do this by installing a strong security system. In addition, follow all the standard online safety rules:
It's almost Halloween, but don't be spooked by the Fantom! Take precautions, and make sure your computer gets the treats and not the tricks.
- Don't open email attachments or click on links within emails from unfamiliar senders.
- Stick to well-known internet sites, and be thoughtful about where you click.
- Don't accept file transfers from unknown sources.
- Keep your applications up to date (with the real updates your system provides).
- Never give personal information, such as login data, to someone calling you from out of the blue. If it's a company you do business with, always call them back at a number you already know.
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