By Brian X. Chen | The New York Times
A decade-old form of malicious software known as ransomware has been making headlines after cybercriminals hijacked hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide.
Ransomware, which is often transmitted by email or web pop-ups, involves locking up people’s data and threatening to destroy it if a ransom is not paid. The global cyberattack has affected 200,000 Windows computers in more than 150 countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Britain.
The cybercriminals have generally targeted hospitals, academic institutions, blue-chip companies and businesses like movie theater chains. The attacks highlight the challenges that organizations face with consistently applying security safeguards on a large scale.
“Individuals and businesses can take several proactive steps in order to protect themselves from ransomware, including:
- Installing updates as they become available, or setting up automatic updates;
- Backing up your files on an external storage device;
- Ensuring you know the source of any document or link you receive prior to opening it; and
- Providing appropriate training to all computer users on your network – whether that be employees, roommates, or family members.”