As you probably know by now, ransomware is an insidious form of malware that will encrypt the contents of your hard drive and then demand that you pay a ransom to a scammer in exchange for the encryption key.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall victim to ransomware, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to recover your files even if you pay the ransom as instructed.
Now, the scammers are planning to take this insidious threat to an even more sinister level!
The security researchers at MalwareHunterTeam have discovered a new ransomware called “Popcorn Time”. They say this new strain of ransomware appears to still be in the testing phase, but once it makes its way onto the Internet it will likely spread faster than any other form of malware to date.
The reason it’s expected to spread so quickly is the malware will entice victims to spread the virus to their friends and associates as a means of avoiding the ransom payment.
If a victim accepts the scammer’s offer and sends an infected link to people they know, that victim’s files will supposedly be decrypted for free if at least two of the people they sent the bad link to pony up and pay the ransom.
I’m sure that most of us would like to think that none of our friends and associates would intentionally send us a bad link in order to prevent having to pay a ransom, but human nature being what it is, I suspect that a fair number of folks will be accepting the scammers’ illicit offers.
As you can see, it’s more important than ever to be on guard against ransomware and other forms of malware. Here are a few tips for avoiding those digital nasties:
1 – Make sure your computer or mobile device is ALWAYS protected by a strong anti-malware program.
I personally use Avast Antivirus on my PCs and Lookout Mobile Security on my Android and iOS devices, but there are plenty of other good options as well.
2 – Make sure you frequently back up both your computer’s hard drives and your mobile devices.
If your PC is running Windows 7, click here for instructions for creating a System Image backup. You can also click here for instructions for Windows 8.1 or here for Windows 10.
Once your System Image backup has been created, disconnect the external hard drive containing the backup set from your computer to ensure that the backup itself cannot be infected if your PC gets hit by a virus.
If you have a Mac, click here to learn about your backup options.
Android and iOS mobile devices can easily be backed up to the cloud.
3 – Don’t click on ANY links in emails except for the links in the verification email you’ll receive when you open a new online account of some type. Clicking those types of links are required in order to verify your email address, but all other types of links should be avoided.
4 – Be careful when downloading software and other types of files from the Internet. Only download trusted items from venues that you know to be safe.
Bottom line: The hackers and scammers of the world are constantly getting better at their illicit craft, and it appears that they’re also getting more devious. Always be vigilant about protecting yourself any time you’re using your computer or mobile device.
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