HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM RANSOMWARE

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HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM RANSOMWARE.

The cyber attack that wreaked havoc across the NHS over the weekend, leading to patients being turned away from A&E and some operations being cancelled, has continued to spread.

By Monday afternoon, it the ransomware had targeted around 200,000 organisations in 150 countries.

The “WannaCry” ransomware appears to have used a flaw in Microsoft’s software, discovered by the National Security Agency and leaked by hackers, to spread rapidly across networks locking away files.

Ransomware is a kind of cyber attack that involves hackers taking control of a computer or mobile device and demanding payment.

The attackers download malicious software onto a device and then use it to encrypt the victim’s information. They threaten to block access to the files until a ransom is paid. It is common for criminals to ask for a fee between 0.3 and 1 Bitcoins (£400 – 1,375).

Such attacks are mostly waged against businesses, but can also affect individuals.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from ransomware.

Back up your files

The greatest damage people suffer from a ransomware attack is the loss of files, including pictures and documents.

The best protection against ransomware is to back up all of the information and files on your devices in a completely separate system. A good place to do this is on an external hard drive that isn’t connected to the internet. This means that if you suffer an attack you won’t lose any information to the hackers.

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Cyber crime | Most common UK online offences

These are the ten most common cyber-crimes in the UK, with number of cases reported in the year to June 2016

1. Bank account fraud – 2,356,000

Criminals trick their way to get account details. For example: “Phishing” emails contain links or attachments that either take you to a website that looks like your bank’s, or install malware on your system. A 2015 report by Verizon into data breach investigations has shown that 23pc of people open phishing emails.

2. Non-investment fraud – 1,028,000

AKA Ponzi schemes. Examples include penny stocks, pension liberation, and investment in commodities, such as wine or art, that later prove worthless

3. Computer virus – 1,340,000

Unauthorised software damages or takes control of your machine. For example: “Ransomware” encrypts your files and pictures then demands a payment to restore your access to it

4. Hacking – 681,000

Criminals exploit security weaknesses to illegally access other machines or networks. They steal sensitive data or subvert machines for their own purposes, such as sending spam or launching other cyber attacks

5. Advance fee fraud – 117,000

The victim is promised access to a great deal of money in return for a smaller upfront payment. For example, the classic “Nigerian Prince” email scam

6. Other fraud – 116,000

One example is “solicitor scams”, where a solicitor’s website is hacked, then clients asked to divert large payments into the criminals’ bank accounts.

7. Harassment and stalking – 18,826

Threats, abuse and online bullying – what’s commonly been termed “trolling” on social media

8. Obscene publications – 6,292

Pornography that meets the definition of the Obscene Publications Act, thus generally involving some form of physical abuse

9. Child sexual offences – 4,184

Assault, grooming, indecent communication, coercing a child to witness a sex act. These crimes may be being under-reported

10. Blackmail – 2,028

This includes threats to publish intimate photographs online

Source: Office for National Statistics


Businesses often save copies of their data to external servers that won’t be affected if their main network is attacked.

Be suspicious of emails, websites and apps

For ransomware to work hackers need to download malicious software onto a victims computer. This is then used to launch the attack and encrypt files.

The most common ways for the software to be installed on a victim’s device is through phishing emails, malicious adverts on websites, and questionable apps and programs.

People should always exercise caution when opening unsolicited emails or visiting websites they are unfamiliar with. Never download an app that hasn’t been verified by an official store, and read reviews before installing programs.


Top 4 | Most popular cyber crimes

Phishing

The aim is to trick people into handing over their card details or access to protected systems. Emails are sent out that contain either links or attachments that either take you to a website that looks like your bank’s, or installs malware on your system. A report by Verizon into data breach investigations has shown that 23% of people open phishing emails.

Identity theft

According to fraud protection agency Cifas, the number of victims rose by 31 per cent to 32,058 in the first three months of 2015. Criminals use online ‘fraud forums’ to buy and sell credit cards, email addresses and passports.

Hacking

In a Verizon study of security breaches there were 285 million data exposures, which works out to about 9 records exposed every second. 26% of these attacks were executed internally within organisations. It is estimated that 90% of all data records that were used in a crime was a result of hackers employed by organised crime.

Online harrassment

Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, while 73% of adult users have seen someone harassed in some way online and 40% have experienced it.

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Use an antivirus program

An age-old computer security tip, antivirus programs can stop ransomware from being downloaded onto computers and can find it when it is.

Most antivirus programs can scan files to see if they might contain ransomware before downloading them. They can block secret installations from malicious adverts when you’re browsing the web, and look for malware that may already be on a computer or device.

Always install updates

Companies often release software updates to fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited to install ransomware. It is therefore advisable to always download the newest version of a software as soon as it is available.

Never pay the ransom

Victims of ransomware attacks are advised to never pay the fee as it encourages attackers and may not result in files being recovered. There are some programs that can help decrypt files. Or, if you have a back up, you can restore your device from that.

BY: CARA MCGOOGAN/TELEGRAPH.CO.UK

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