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Category : BLOG , SPAM & SCAMS

Ransomware is in full bloom – Protect yourself now!

Ransomware is a big problem and its growing way faster than your peonies and petunias are. In fact in just the second quarter of 2015 there were 4 million new incidents of Ransomware alone.

It has grown in numbers from a relatively minor bother, mostly found in Russia into a world-wide scourge, leaving no corn-near of the globe unaffected.

In terms of sophistication, Ransomware is constantly evolving as well. The first noted case, which was almost laughable by today’s standards, was created in 1989 by the less-than-stable biologist, Dr. Joseph Popp. Popp’s version was distributed through a disk that was supposed to contain an AIDS education program. Instead user’s computers were locked and Dr. Popp would ever so generously unlock them for just $198.

Today if you were to get tangled up by some form of Ransomware 2.0 such as the notorious Cryptolocker, it would cost you anything from approximately $600-2000 to unlock your device. And, as with all aspects of the nasty bugger, don’t even think about trying to pay with credit card or, *gasp*, cash, Nowadays savvy hackers only accept payments via bitcoin, which that means if you’re the unlucky victim, you also have to figure out how to set up a bitcoin account and get money in the account, all so the hackers can retain their anonymity as long and as well as possible.

In ransom wares earlier incarnations it seemed that such evil exploits were limited in scope to PCs but not so anymore. Today, hackers can take just about anything ransom, from your PC to your Mac or Linux, your iPhone or android and even your fitness trackers. Today nothing is safe from ransomware, not even your allergies (gehzundheit!). And the locking methods are much, much more effective. Back in Dr. Popp’s days (cue the mad scientist evil laugh), he used a relatively easy-to-reverse locking technique called symmetric cryptography. The lockers of today use super-strong encryption methods that simply cannot be reversed without the correlating unlocking keys. Talk about raining on your parade.

Ransomware affects home users, small businesses, mega corporations, governments and don’t forget the perps new favorite target, hospitals networks. The situation has become so perilous that on March 31st the US and Canada issued a joint cyber alert imploring citizens to take the threat seriously and use the Internet with forethought and caution.

Here are some things you can do to keep your computer and devices safe from the big bad ransomware.

  • • Keep away from shady links in the body of emails and attachments and on websites Clicking on malicious links that are designed to appear legit can cause your computer or device to download locking malware among other baddies.
  • • Back up your files. When it comes to beating ransomware, this is one of the most important things you can do because when it comes to soothing like Cryptolocker, there is no known solution other than paying up or starting over.
  • • Keep your ZoneAlarm software and Operating System updated. Malware and zero-day exploits including Ransomware just love to meet up with an operating system or other software that’s in need of updating or patching. One of the very most effective methods to keep hackers out it to ensure that your device is always running the most recent version of software and that your OS is always at the most current version.
  • • Run ZoneAlarm Extreme which will alert you to anything suspicious that might be trying to get onto your computer. The dual protection of AV and firewall increases the chances of any infiltrators being caught.

At ZoneAlarm, everything’s comin’ up roses Stick with us here at ZoneAlarm to find out all the latest ransomware-related news and have a great, ransomware-free May!

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