What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is malware that threatens to destroy your data. When ransomware infects your network, it encrypts your data, and often, the only way you can decrypt data and recover the system is to pay a ransom. Ransomware is a common type of malware because it's a high-profit, low-risk criminal venture.


What to watch out for:

  1. Email – The most common scenario involves an email attachment or link in an email that looks authentic, but when opened leads to infection. Never click a link or open an email attachment without verifying its authenticity.
  2. Drive-by download – Increasingly, infections happen when the user visits a website with a compromised browser or third party application such as Adobe Flash or Java.
  3. Free software – This might look like a “cracked” version of expensive games or software, free games, adult content, screen savers, or software advertised to get around paying.

Protective Measures:

  1. Back up your files. The best way to recover your files without paying ransom is via backups. Remember, if your backup can be accessed from the infected system, it could also be encrypted and deleted by the ransomware. Create additional backups that are not connected to your network, and make sure you can perform recovery from those backups.
  2. Do not give out personal information such as usernames (LEA), passwords, bank account numbers, or Social Security numbers. Neither Lamar University nor any other reputable business would ask for this information in an email or phone call.
  3. Use software-based protection like an up-to-date anti-virus and/or anti-malware program by a trusted vendor. Keep your firewall enabled when possible .
  4. Frequently update your operating system, browsers, applications, and all other software and devices. When available, use auto-backups.
  5. Restrict privileges. Do not use an “Administrator” account unless necessary. When you do not need those privileges, log out of that account and use your standard account.
  6. Think before you open/click. If you do not know the sender, are not sure why the attachment was sent, or it looks suspicious, do not open it. It’s better to verify with the sender than infect your computer, or worse, the entire network.