The internet is home to an infinite amount of great content.
There are videos of cats,
pictures of cats,
GIFs of cats,
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memes with cats in them, you name it —
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lots of great stuff lives on the internet.
Unfortunately, there are also cyber threats out there that can prevent you from enjoying an endless stream of cat-based content.
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One of the most common cyber threats is malware:
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malicious software created to cause damage to your data, device or network.
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There are many types of malware that serve lots of different purposes.
Ransomware is one of them.
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Ransomware is pretty much what it sounds like — a type of malware that holds your data, devices or network for, well, ransom.
Ransomware locks your screen or encrypts your files and holds them hostage until you send money
(often in an untraceable digital currency like Bitcoin) to the attackers
Unlike some other types of malware, it’s very easy to tell if you have ransomware on your system.
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That’s because it proudly announces itself — usually with a popup page explaining the terms of the ransom.
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Sometimes ransomware messages look like they’re from law enforcement, saying your device is locked because you’ve done illegal things online.
This scare tactic is a lie to make people panic and react.
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So how do you protect yourself?
Luckily, the steps to prevent malware are basic cyber safety measures you should be doing anyway, like
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keeping an eye out for phishing messages
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making sure your OS and software are updated
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using cyber security tools like antivirus software, spam filters and firewalls and frequently backing up your files offline.
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When it comes to ransomware, this one is extra important.
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Being careful can prevent most malware on your device, but it only takes one click to get compromised.
If your device is infected with ransomware, don’t panic! Here’s what you can do to minimize the damage:
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First, disconnect all devices from your network as soon as possible.
Some ransomware can spread to other connected devices.
Next, report the attack to law enforcement and, if necessary, call an IT expert to help you remove the malware.
You should also do a bit of cyber security cleanup,
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like changing your passwords and updating your devices.
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Most importantly: do whatever you can to avoid paying.
You could end up on a list of people and organizations known to pay ransoms, putting yourself at even more risk for repeat attacks.
If your files are backed up, it will be easier to restore your data without paying the ransom.
Ransomware can seem scary.
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But being prepared for the worst-case scenario can make it a lot more manageable,
so you can quickly get back to doing what you love online.
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Visit getcybersafe.ca for more information and advice on all things cyber security.
Video: Malware and ransomware
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