Ransomware is in the news every day, so it makes sense to follow the FBI’s warning to avoid paying a ransom of “hundreds to thousands of dollars” for “a type of malware that infects computers and restricts users’ access to their files or threatens the permanent destruction of their information…” The March 17, 2016 press release entitled “FBI Warns the Public About Ransomware Internet Scam” included these 9 way to protect your computer and cell devices:

  1. To prevent the loss of essential files due to a ransomware infection, it is recommended that individuals and businesses always conduct regular system back-ups and store the backed-up data offline. Ransomware will encrypt any drive that is visible to the computer, including back-ups.
  2. Filter out e-mails with .exe attachments and set your computer to show hidden file extensions. Ransomware is often delivered as a file with more than one file extension such as example.pdf.exe.
  3. Make sure you have updated antivirus software on your computer.
  4. Enable automated patches for your operating system and web browser.
  5. Have strong passwords and don’t use the same passwords for everything.
  6. Use a pop-up blocker.
  7. Only download software—especially free software—from sites you know and trust (malware can also come in downloadable games, file-sharing programs, and customized toolbars).
  8. Don’t open attachments in unsolicited e-mails, even if they come from people in your contact list, and never click on a URL contained in an unsolicited e-mail, even if you think it looks safe. Instead, close out the e-mail and go to the organization’s website directly.

Of course there is no substitute for training employees to avoid Ransomware problems.