Ghosts in the Machine
I was reading a story today on ZDNET – a tech blog, about the relentless march of ransomware across our planet. It seems (to some security experts) that this blight on our daily lives is only set to get worse over the coming 24 months. Infections of this type of malware are at an all-time high – up almost 40% in 2016, we’re only into its first quarter.
Why is this becoming such big business? Simple. It’s the outlay by the criminal gangs. Very little or none. It’s an easy business to start up, you can reach (read infect) a staggering amount of people in very little time, and the money returned can be huge.
McAfee Labs “saw more than 4 million samples of ransomware in the second quarter of 2015, including 1.2 million that were new, and expects those instances to grow in 2016. That compares to fewer than 1.5 million total samples in the third quarter 2013, when fewer than 400,000 were new.” Says Security Magazine.
This is a very worrying trend in this type of malware – one which could be mitigated by a little forethought.
What can I do to stop me getting infected?
You can do a few things to help yourself. Make sure you have a decent virus checker installed – one that will deal with malware as well is always good.
- McAfee (Free and paid versions)
- Microsoft Security Essentials (free)
- Avast Antivirus (Free and paid versions)
- Trend Micro AntiVirus (Free and paid versions)
The above list is not exhaustive – there are plenty more alternatives available. Toms Guide has a very good review of the top 10 in 2016.
When browsing the World Wide Web, make sure that you have your wits about you. Seeing an advert on a website that looks too good to be true means that it generally is! Don’t be tempted to click through websites offering you the latest diet trend, quick ways to make money with no outlay, the latest miracle cure for cancer or those that offer free things for filling out a simple marketing questionnaires (unless you’re sure its legitimate).
Being aware of your surroundings when browsing or downloading software from the Internet can prevent the majority of infections and keep you safe whilst browsing.
If you do get infected, there are many companies out there that can be called on to help remove the infection and return your computer to a good working state. Bear in mind though, if you do get infected by ransomware, the chances are that you will have lost all of your personal data – and more often than not, you will have to re-install all of your software / windows so keep backups of your files!
If you want to read more about this subject, the aforementioned story on ZDNET is available here.
That’s it from me for now, safe and happy interwebbing!