Ransomware, what it is and what to do to protect yourself.

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Ransomware is a kind of cyber attack that involves hackers taking control of a computer or mobile device and demanding payment. The attackers download malicious software onto a device and then use it to encrypt the victim's information. They threaten to block access to the files until a ransom is paid. It is common for criminals to ask for a fee between 0.3 and 1 Bitcoins (Ksh 50,000 - 180,000).


A massive global ransomware attack struck hospitals, companies and government offices around the world, seizing control of affected computers until the victims pay a ransom. The majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. But the National Health Service in the United Kingdom and global firms such as FedEx also reported they had come under assault on Friday according to CNN. Experts suggested Saturday that the ransomware's progress had been halted albeit accidentally according to BBC, but new attacks could soon follow.

Such attacks are mostly waged against businesses, but can also affect individuals.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from ransomware.

Back up your files

The greatest damage people suffer from a ransomware attack is the loss of files, including pictures and documents.

The best protection against ransomware is to back up all of the information and files on your devices in a completely separate system. A good place to do this is on an external hard drive that isn't connected to the internet. This means that if you suffer an attack you won't lose any information to the hackers.

Be suspicious of emails, websites and apps

For ransomware to work hackers need to download malicious software onto a victims computer. This is then used to launch the attack and encrypt files.

The most common ways for the software to be installed on a victim's device is through phishing emails, malicious adverts on websites, and questionable apps and programs.

People should always exercise caution when opening unsolicited emails or visiting websites they are unfamiliar with. Never download an app that hasn't been verified by an official store, and read reviews before installing programs.


Use an antivirus program

An age-old computer security tip, antivirus programs can stop ransomware from being downloaded onto computers and can find it when it is.

Most antivirus programs can scan files to see if they might contain ransomware before downloading them. They can block secret installations from malicious adverts when you're browsing the web, and look for malware that may already be on a computer or device.

Always install updates

Companies often release software updates to fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited to install ransomware. It is therefore advisable to always download the newest version of a software as soon as it is available. For instance the malware is spread by taking advantage of a Windows (especially windows XP)vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March. But computers and networks that didn't update their systems remained at risk.




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