Ransomware: A long way past notes and magazine clippings


Imagine if all your data was cybernapped — held hostage until you paid a fee to free it.

It may seem like some thrilling plot from a blockbuster sci-fi movie, but the truth is ransomware is very real — and equally as dangerous. Just look at the alarming number of healthcare providers, most notably the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center and MedStar Health, which have made headlines due to malicious ransomware attacks.

Pinned as one of the fastest-growing cybercrime trends of the last few years, ransomware can hit anyone, but hackers are increasingly profiling targets that are more willing to pay up. For those not familiar with this particular cybercrime’s MO, ransomware is a scare tactic that uses malware to encrypt files on a system or attached drives, rending them unreadable without the decryption key. Simply put, cybercriminals hack into a network and hold user data hostage until said user pays a fee to free it.

Luckily, you can help protect yourself from this new form of cybernapping. Simple things like keeping your operating system (and other applications) updated and avoiding untrusted sites and attachments are big first steps. But user awareness is just as important, so always be on the lookout for ransomware warning signs.

As alarming as ransomware is, you can take precautions to help prevent it from happening to you. Make sure you and/or your company aren’t next on the hit list.