Each day, malicious software takes hold of countless devices. Since malware is often designed to steal victims’ personal information, there’s little wonder as to why it’s such a popular tool among cybercriminals. Although some forms of malware are relatively benign, most malicious software is created with the intent of data theft and/or extortion. Ransomware is among the nastiest types of malware currently floating around the web. As its name suggests, ransomware takes over internet-enabled devices and holds them captive until victims comply with certain demands. While these demands vary, they typically entail handing over credit card numbers or transferring money. Anyone looking to avoid a ransomware infection should familiarize themselves with this malicious software’s most popular methods of infiltration.

  1. Phishing Emails

Despite being old hat for cybercriminals, phishing emails continue to rank among the most prominent online scams. These fraudulent messages are designed to trick victims into clicking malicious links and/or downloading malicious attachments. Suffice it to say, most of these links and attachments are crawling with malware – most notably, ransomware. Although many internet users know to treat emails from unknown senders with caution, phishers often get around this by spoofing the names and email addresses of friends and family members, thereby making it more difficult to discern fake correspondences from genuine ones. As such, it pays to scan every email attachment you receive with dedicated anti-virus software. This generally won’t take more than a minute or two at most, and it stands to save you a tremendous amount of time, money and hassle. Similarly, unless you are 100 percent certain of a message’s authenticity, you should abstain from clicking any links found in your emails.

  1. Unsecured Websites

Ransomware has an unfortunate habit of finding its way onto websites. This is often accomplished through Flash or Java-based ads, as well as ads that contain malicious links. In the case of the former, victims don’t even have to click on an ad for an infection to occur. For this reason, it behooves every responsible website owner to take active measures against ransomware. At the bare minimum, this entails investing in cutting-edge security software. SiteLock reviews can help you learn a great deal about cloud-based solutions. Secondly, site owners should make a point of vetting every company who offers to purchase ad space. If a prospective client or the products they’re peddling seem untrustworthy, you may be dealing with a ransomware spreader. Furthermore, internet users should be selective about the sites they visit. If a site lacks a security authentication, it’s best to steer clear.

  1. Freeware Programs

There are a multitude of convenient, user-friendly freeware programs floating around the web. From graphics editors to word processors, chances are you can find a freeware program that meets your specific needs. Unfortunately, not all freeware is equally dependable. Many freeware programs have ransomware included as an added “bonus” or are simply ransomware in disguise. This is why it’s important to be selective about the sites from which you obtain freeware and to research programs that interest you before committing to download. Furthermore, take care to scan all installation files with anti-virus software before proceeding to open them.

  1. Illegal Installation Files

People who want to save money by illegally downloading licensed software often get far more than they bargain for. In many cases, the installation files attached to these programs are ransomware in disguise. Although these individuals thought they’d be saving a few bucks, complying with ransom demands is generally a costlier financial burden than simply purchasing software the legal way. In addition to being less burdensome on your conscience, legally purchasing licensed software ensures that the developers are compensated and helps keep ransomware off your devices.

Malicious software is something internet users should strive to avoid at all costs. Once malware finds its way onto a device, it can be very difficult to remove without the aid of an experienced professional. As such, preventative measures are essential to combating malicious software. This is doubly true in the case of ransomware. As one of the most notorious varieties of malware, it can make your devices unusable and put a massive hole in your personal finances if the proper precautions aren’t taken.    

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