Ransomware is malware (malicious software) that locks your computer and mobile devices or encrypts your electronic files, demanding that a ransom is paid through certain online payment methods in order to regain control of your data.
Ransomware can be downloaded by visiting compromised websites or through fake application updates. It can also be delivered as an email attachment in spam or downloaded via other malware (i.e. a Trojan).
- Don’t click on attachments, banners or links without knowing their true origin. What looks like a harmless advertisement or image can actually redirect you to a website where malware can be downloaded.
- Don’t install or run non-trusted or unknown software. Do not install programs or applications on your computer if you do not know where they come from. Some malware installs background programs that try to steal personal data.
- Update your software regularly. Many malware infections are the result of criminals exploiting bugs in software (web browsers, operating systems etc.). Keeping these up to date can help to keep your devices and files safe.
- Install and keep antivirus and firewall software updated on your devices. Antivirus can help keep your computer free from the most common malware. Remember always check downloaded files with antivirus software.
- Use only official sources and reliable websites to keep your software updated with the latest security releases. Always use the official version of the software.
- Don’t install mobile apps from unknown providers/sources. Always download from official, reputable and trusted sources/app stores.
- Regularly back up the data stored on your computer. Even if you are affected by Ransomware, you will still be able to access your personal files (pictures, contacts, etc.) from another computer.
- Do not pay out any money if held to a ransom request. Paying does not guarantee that your problem will be solved and that you will be able to gain access to your files again. Furthermore, if you pay you will be supporting cybercriminals’ businesses and the financing of their illegal activities.
- If you are a victim of Ransomware, report it immediately to the Gardaí/Police. The more information that you give to the authorities, the more effective they can be in disrupting the criminal infrastructure behind these scams.