Security

Top 5: Things to know about ransomware

The fight against ransomware is getting tougher. Here are five basics everyone should know about it.

Ransomware — the malware that encrypts all your data and makes you pay a ransom in order to (hopefully) get it back — is the big new threat. So you need to know everything you can about it.

SEE: Free ebook—17 tips for protecting Windows computers and Macs from ransomware (TechRepublic)

Here five things to start with:

1. Ransomware is getting big. Attacks were up 600% in 2016 and cost more than $1 billion. So this is not a small threat.

2. You need to keep your software up to date. Ransomware often takes advantage of older vulnerabilities that have been fixed in newer software. As in defending against all attacks, keep that software updated. All of it.

3. Watch out for the precursor. Other types of malware often get into a system to collect information. It's often used to assess how much ransom an organization can afford. If you stop this quiet malware, you may take yourself off the target list.

4. You're the vector. Granted, the malware itself does the encrypting, but phishing attacks that convince employees to download the malware in the first place are the most common attacks. Train your staff on how to avoid phishing scams.

5. Back up your data. If you have a good recent backup, you can skip right past the demands for ransom and get on with your day. Segmenting your network can also mitigate ransomware's damage.

Those are just a few things to keep in mind when setting up your defenses.

For more on ransomware, check out these articles from TechRepublic:

About Tom Merritt

Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont. He also hosts Daily Tech News Show, coverin...

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox