We all remember the massive 2017 WannaCray ransomware attack that affected computers in 74 countries including the UK where its entire health care system was affected. Ransomware is the name for malware that once installed on a computer, often unwittingly through clicking on links in spear phishing emails, encrypts and locks all of the victim’s data.  The cybercriminal then threatens to destroy the data unless a ransom is paid.  Now we have learned the aircraft manufacturer Boeing was hit by a WannaCry cyberattack earlier this week although the company has stated the the damage was minimal.  While companies and government agencies are often the targets of ransomware, individuals are also targeted by this malware, as well. In fact, according to a recent report by the security firm Malwarebytes, ransomware attacks against consumers increased by 90% in 2017 from the previous year.
Often ransomware attacks as well as other types of malware attacks are spread through phishing emails that lure unsuspecting people into clicking on malware infected links or downloading attachments tainted with malware.  As I am constantly reminding you, never click on links or download attachments until you have confirmed that they are legitimate.
You also should update all of your electronic devices with the latest security updates and patches as soon as they become available, preferably automatically.  Many past ransomware attacks exploited vulnerabilities for which patches had already been issued. In fact, the WannaCry ransomware exploits a vulnerability in the Windows XP operating system which is extremely outdated and should not be used.
As for protecting yourself specifically from ransomware, you should back up all of your data on at least two different platforms, such as in the Cloud and on a portable hard drive.
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