New Ransomware Keeps on Giving
A new malware, named Popcorn Time, has surfaced this holiday season and it comes with a twist. To get rid of the virus, you can do one of two things: pay a monetary ransom within seven days or pass the ransomware on to another unsuspecting victim. If two or more people are infected by your personalized link, you regain access to your files. In addition, it is reported that if the victim enters the incorrect decryption code too many times, the ransomware will permanently lock the files.
Malware is short for malicious software and it includes viruses and spyware that gets installed on your computer or mobile device without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor your online activity. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website, you can reduce your risk of downloading software by doing the following:
- Install and update security software, and use a firewall. Set your security software, internet browser, and operating system (like Windows or Mac OS X) to update automatically.
- Don’t change your browser’s security settings. You can minimize “drive-by” or bundled downloads if you keep your browser’s default security settings.
- Pay attention to your browser’s security warnings. Many browsers come with built-in security scanners that warn you before you visit an infected webpage or download a malicious file.
- Instead of clicking on a link in an email, type the URL of a trusted site directly into your browser. Criminals send emails that appear to be from companies you know and trust. The links may look legitimate, but clicking on them could download malware or send you to a scam site.
- Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening the wrong attachment — even if it seems to be from friends or family — can install malware on your computer.
- Get well-known software directly from the source. Sites that offer lots of different browsers, PDF readers, and other popular software for free are more likely to include malware.
- Read each screen when installing new software. If you don’t recognize a program, or are prompted to install additional “bundled” software, decline the additional program or exit the installation process.
- Don’t click on popups or banner ads about your computer’s performance. Scammers insert unwanted software into banner ads that look legitimate, especially ads about your computer’s health. Avoid clicking on these ads if you don’t know the source.
- Scan USBs and other external devices before using them. These devices can be infected with malware, especially if you use them in high traffic places, like photo printing stations or public computers.
- Talk about safe computing. Tell your friends and family that some online actions can put the computer at risk: clicking on pop-ups, downloading “free” games or programs, opening chain emails, or posting personal information.
- Back up your data regularly. Whether it’s your taxes, photos, or other documents that are important to you, back up any data that you’d want to keep in case your computer crashes.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.