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You’ve likely seen news stories about businesses, hospitals or government organizations which have been attacked by a ransomware virus. This threat is not isolated to businesses — the scenario could play out on your personal computer. The malware locks up files and the thieves demand a ransom in order for you to regain access to your data. Here are some best practices to prevent a ransomware attack.

How does ransomware get onto your computer?

A ransomware attack can be triggered by clicking on a link in a phishing email or a legitimate-looking message that’s actually a virus. Once clicked, the link downloads the virus onto your computer. An attack can also be activated by opening a document containing macros — a type of computer command — and downloading the virus onto your system. Unknowingly visiting a site with infected web ads can also open the door to malware.

How to stop ransomware

You can reduce your risk of an attack by taking these steps:

  • Don’t take the bait with phishing scams! Emails appearing to be from a trusted source can really be thieves “phishing” for sensitive financial information. Be cautious.
  • Use your web browser’s pop-up blocking modules to keep out unwanted and possibly dangerous pop-ups. You can always allow pop-ups you trust on a case-by-case basis.
  • Enable all software patches from known sources to close back doors into your system.
  • Adjust your file settings to prevent macros from running.
  • Back up your files regularly to a removable drive or cloud storage that keeps multiple versions. This way you’ll always have the most recent files.

What happens if I pay to unlock my files?

If you were too late in taking precautions and you pay to have your files unlocked, it’s even more important to monitor all financial accounts like credit card and bank statements to ensure no unauthorized access. Members can access their accounts online in Member Connect anytime to view transactions and catch potential issues sooner.

Discover more ways you can protect yourself online.

The advice provided is for informational purposes only.

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