TECHNOLOGY

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Ransomware

Here’s what you need to know about ransomware–but may never have heard before.

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BY Joseph Steinberg - 15 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Here are 7 things many people do not know about ransomware - but need to know:

1. Ransomware is malware that blocks your access to your files or actually steals them.

Criminals either encrypt or remove your files from your computer until you pay them a ransom.

2. Paying ransomware ransoms will likely not get you your files back

In recent months the world has learned clearly that some crooks are not honest. Many -- possibly even most -- people and businesses who pay ransoms do not get their files back.

3. Hospitals have been hit. Repetitively.

In early 2016 several hospitals were hit, and in May of 2017 a large number were hit again. Ransomware can kill - people can die if their medical data is not available to doctors treating them - which is why hospitals make such great targets; they do not have the luxury of spending time, and are, therefore, historically speaking, likely to pay ransoms.

4. Ransomware is smart, and targets your most sensitive files.

Some ransomware waits to activate until it finds the most important files on a computer or network. This increases the likelihood that the victim will pay the ransom.

5. Ransomware ransoms are set using economic data.

Some criminals decide how much you must pay as a data ransom based on where you live - if you are in the USA you'll be charged more than if you live in a country with lower incomes.

6. Ransomware is an epidemic that is likely going to get worse in the near future, not better.

Here are several reasons why.

7. There are two defenses against ransomware.

Practice good cybersecurity hygiene and back up your files - but keep the backups disconnected from your computer and network so that any malware that gets on the network does not infect the backups.