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Ransomware: What It Is And How To Protect Yourself

Business Technology | October 31, 2012

Have you ever heard about ransomware? It is a especially frightening new form of malware. A recent story published by Slate goes into the details of how it attacks your computer. After clicking on a suspicious link from an email or a webpage, your screen will suddenly turn grey. Then a message pops up that is branded to look like it’s from the FBI. What’s more, it has you on a live webcam feed!

That’s shocking. What happens next is a whole lot worse. You’ll see a message on your screen accusing you of downloading files unlawfully in violation of federal copyright laws. The message states that you need to either pay a fine or face up to three years in prison. You’re then given 48 to 72 hours to pay this fine—often, as Slate reports, by buying a prepaid cash card—to avoid facing criminal charges. The message also states that you will be locked out of your machine permanently if you don’t pay.

A real threat

Obviously you will not be charged with anything if you don’t pay, it is a scam. However, they may actually be able to lock you out of your computer according to a senior security advisor quoted by Slate. So should you just pay the fine to avoid this, it’s usually in the $100 range, or not? Perhaps not, once they have your money there is no guarantee they won’t lock your computer anyway to get more money.

True protection

So how can you protect yourself? The same way you always have, with up-to-date antivirus software. Also, pay attention to what sites you visit and don’t click on links in emails from people you don’t know.

However, if you do become a victim of ransomware you will most likely need to talk to a security expert to unlock your computer. Another option is to contact the real FBI here www.ic3.gov and file a complaint.

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