4 tips to protect against ransomware at home and work

July 26, 2017

This post comes from Ted Bruce, the IT Manager with our Nova Scotia Division.

WHAT IS IT?

Ransomware is malware (malicious software) for kidnapping data, an computer exploit in which the attacker encrypts the victim's data and demands payment for the decryption.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Ransomware spreads mainly through attachments and links embedded in e-mails, software, and compromised websites. A ransomware program may also be called a crypto virus, crypto Trojan or crypto worm.

HOW TO AVOID IT:

  • Always check email address of the sender.
  • Verify the email is legitimate. If the email is supposedly coming from a bank, verify with your bank that the message is legitimate. If the email came from a personal contact, confirm that your contact sent the message. Do not rely solely on trust by virtue of relationship, as your friend, co-worker or family member may be a victim of spammers as well.
  • Double-check the content of the message. There may be obvious factual errors or discrepancies that you can spot. For example, if your bank or a friend claims that they have received something from you, go to your sent items to double-check their claim. Spam messages often use social engineering to persuade users to open the message.
  • Refrain from clicking links in emails. In general, clicking on links in emails should be avoided. It is safer to visit any site mentioned in email directly from your browser. Hovering your mouse pointer over any suspicious link will show where the link goes to. If you’re being spammed, the link will not relate to the company being spoofed in the email. That is, if the spoofed email appears to come from Service Canada and you hover the mouse over the link and it shows joeblow@gmail.com, you can rest assured this email is not legitimate. If you are unsure, don’t open the email.