Talk about alarming. According to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred every day since this time last year. That statistic is extremely alarming given that experts report this figure to be three times higher than similar attacks encountered only the year before in 2015.

With those numbers in mind, it’s best to believe that your own data, no matter how mundane, is at risk. That also goes for computer users unaware of their access to unknowingly sensitive information hackers would go after.

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Beware of ransomware

Ransomware is defined as a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. These attacks come to the forefront in a number of ways, as well as in a vast variety of cases. Some situations are so serious that the hacking turns into a crisis of grand, and even international proportions. Others turn out to be far less critical, but devastating because the person’s affected computer contained such items as personal photos and other memorabilia that may never be recovered.

When your machine is hit up by ransomware, and your files become encrypted, you can say goodbye to all your data. However, you are offered a chance to use a company that isn’t vetted, but claims to be able to help by way of a pop-up message, if and when you shell out a lot of money. In most cases, there is no way to know if you are being taken for a complete scam or not until the funds are surrendered to this unknown provider that promises to be of service.

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Lessons learned

What is the lesson here? Don’t put yourself at the mercy of dubious technology support systems in the first place. Instead, do all you can to avoid being taken by ransomware. Always back up your work, and always use your own security software to keep your computer as clean and secure as possible.

You will find it is far better to take precautions rather than deal with the aftermath should these vicious attacks come calling. This is a situation in which the proverbial “better safe than sorry” adage is most definitely spot on.


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This article was written by Jane Lasky for CBS Small Business Pulse.