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Of all the forms of malware, Ransomware is the most insidious and can cost you dearly. It’s a form of malicious cryptovirology software that is specifically designed to extort money, and worse.

At GEEK911 we see a rise in ransomware attacks during the holiday season, particularly during Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years. Black Friday and last-minute Christmas or post-holiday online sale ads and emails lure people with deep discounts, and all it takes is clicking on one malicious ad to become infected.

Clients come to us for help with ransomware and virus removal in the greater San Francisco Bay area in droves during the holidays, as it’s unfortunately a prime time for hackers to catch you unaware and distracted. Part of the personalized service we provide is to help clients know the steps they can take to avoid these attacks in the future.

So, before the full swing of holiday shopping hits, you’ll want to take a few minutes to read on for ways to protect yourself and your computer from ransomware this November/December, and all year-round.

What is Ransomware & Why is it So Dangerous?

Ransomware is one of the forms of malware. Malware includes a whole host of nasty things that can invade your computer such as viruses, spyware, and Trojans.

The goal of ransomware, and how it got its name, is to take your data or system “hostage” by encrypting it so you can’t access it. The hacker then demands a ransom payment to unlock your system and give you access back.

Another twist is that a ransomware attacker might demand a ransom to also keep from publishing online any compromising photos or information they stole from your system.

The reason ransomware is the worst form of malware is that it’s more complicated than the other types and can present itself in a number of ways. One is as Locker ransomware that encrypts an entire hard drive, locking the user out completely. Another is as Crypto ransomware that picks and chooses certain key file types to encrypt like PDFs or image files.

47% of ransomware victims receive a demand of $501 to $2,000 to gain access back to their files, and 17% receive demands of $2,001 to $5,000. (Statista)

Ransomware not only infects your computer, it also has the added danger of identity theft and losing more money than the ransom itself, because depending upon the method you use for payment, a hacker can easily manipulate that information for further damage to you and your finances.

How to Avoid Being a Ransomware Victim

You can protect yourself from a ransomware attack by following these simple tips.

Backing Up is Key

Ransomware attackers are counting on the fact that you don’t have a current backup or other way to recover your files… so you’ll pay them to decrypt your data. Having a backup of all your data using a perpetual cloud-based backup system is the best way to avoid becoming a victim. If you can recover your files from a backup, the ransomware hack is rendered obsolete. GEEK911 stands ready to help you with the setup of such a backup solution.

Practice “Think Before You Click”

A majority of all types of malware, including ransomware, are designed to trick you into clicking to download a malicious script onto your computer or mobile device (that’s right, mobile devices are also targets!).

If you get into the habit of being suspicious of any link or attachment, whether it’s in an email or on a social media post, and really think about it and research validity before you click, you can greatly increase your cybersecurity protection.

Make Sure Your System is Updated

Yes, those continual operating system (OS) and software updates can be a hassle, especially if you have limited time to do some online holiday shopping online, but installing those updates is important.

Updates often include patches for recently discovered security vulnerabilities in a software, firmware, or OS that could be exploited by ransomware attackers.

Use a Great Anti-Malware Program

Those hackers are very tricky, and they work hard to disguise ransomware links so that you’ll click on them. That’s why the holidays are such a popular time for ransomware attacks because they wrap their poison up in pretty holiday sales promotions with insane (and fake) discounts.

If you’ve got a great malware protection program installed, it can catch the ransomware (and viruses and other nasties) that get through and act as a last line of defense against infection. GEEK911 stands ready to help you with the setup of such a highly effective malware protection solution. The same solution we use to protect our systems and we have not had a single malware infection. We recommend and deploy solutions that we ourselves use and that work.

What Should I Do If I’m the Victim of Ransomware?

If you’ve been hit with ransomware or suspect something strange is going on with your device, stop what you’re doing right away! Then call GEEK911 for help…

Batman does!

Need Help Finding a Great Anti-Malware or Backup Program?

Did you know that many of those “free virus/malware software” links that come up in a Google search, are actually malware in disguise?

Don’t chance downloading a program that you’re not familiar with, call GEEK911 and we’ll be happy to help with some expert suggestions for anti-malware and backup/recovery solutions.

Contact us or call us at 1-866-433-5411.

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