Consumer Advice

Avoiding Ransomware Attacks!

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What is “ransomware”?

It’s a cybercrime where hackers hold your computer files for “ransom” and ask you for money to release the files back to you. When you log on to your computer, a screen will pop up, telling you that you cannot access your files unless you pay them money (they usually ask for a dollar amount to be paid in bitcoins so the money can’t be traced) and they will also give you a time limit to pay the money or you will lose your files forever.

Here are some of the ways they are able to access your files:

Baiting: Attackers will leave a USB flash drive in a place sure to be found. A person thinks they have just found a spare flash drive, but when they plug it into their computer, they have unintentionally installed malware.

Phishing: A person received what they “think” is a legitimate email, from a trusted source. But it is meant to trick you into sharing personal or financial information. Or you may be asked to click a link, which installs the malware and takes control of the computer.

Whaling: A type of fraud that targets high-profile end users, such as corporate executives, politicians and celebrities. It’s meant to trick the receipt into generating a transfer of funds into their financial institution, but the link actually goes to the attacker’s untraceable bank account.

Pretexting: This is usually a phone call or text where the attacker asks personal information to gain access to your accounts or computer.

Scareware: Tricking the person to make them think that their computer has been infected with malware or that illegal content. The attacker then offers to fix the problem by downloading software to fix the problem. In reality, you are installed malware.

Often times, the email will look authentic. They copy logos. They use words to make you think that they are specifically talking to you.

Check the email address that appears after the @ sign. It’s usually phony or has letters, numbers or the company name is “almost” correct.

If you really think that it’s an email from your bank, your mortgage company, your insurance agent, call them or forward the email to them and ask them if they actually sent this to you.

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