You store your precious photos on your computer, but what happens if a virus—or a hacker—wipes out your family photos or even holds them for ransom? It sounds like the start to a bad movie, but it happens more often than you think.
Then, there’s ransomware. Hackers gain access to your computer and lock it up until you pay them a ransom. Just days before the U.S. Presidential inauguration, more than 130 of Washington D.C.’s police cameras got hit with ransomware—when security was at its highest. Hackers hit the Presbyterian Medical Center and demanded $17,000 to let the hospital gain access back to its own medical records. The library system in St. Louis had a ransomware attack on its 700 computers.
In May, some 200,000 computers spread more than 150 programs were hit with the WannaCry ransom outbreak, including the British healthcare system. The Petya virus took control of banks, power plant, and public transportation systems in the Ukraine.
One million new threats every day
How big is the threat? CNN reports that more than one million new malware threats are released every day. In the past two years, ransomware has increased by a factor of 15! Experts predict costs to deal with ransomware will exceed $5 billion this year.
Hackers hit both business and home computers. Anti-virus programs can help, but with so many new viruses being developed every day, they can’t protect against everything.
Paying the ransom may not work
Even if the ransom is paid, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your data back. “Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee an organization that it will get its data back,” said FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor. “We’ve seen cases where organizations never got a decryption key after having paid the ransom.”
In fact, the FBI recommends you don’t pay the ransom. Doing so encourages the crooks to keep going and the money paid is sometimes used for other illicit activities, including terrorism.
FBI recommends two steps to protect your data
The FBI suggests two steps to best secure your data and keep it safe from hackers and ransomware:
• Back up your data regularly
• Secure your backups by making sure it isn’t connected to a physical device the hackers can access.
It’s not as simple just syncing your computer to a hard drive or an online service. Syncing can move the virus or ransomware onto your backup.
The best way to protect your data is with isolated, offsite data storage for secure backup. Mozy by Dell is the world’s most trusted cloud backup service. More than 6 million people and 100,000 businesses use it worldwide.