The Complete Guide to Protect Against Ransomware: Different Ways to Keep Your Data Safe

Keeping your data secure is one of the most important challenges that businesses face today. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, they keep coming up with new ways to attack companies and their data. One of the most dangerous types of malware is ransomware, which encrypts your data and demands a ransom payment to give you access to it again. This guide discusses ransomware from all angles: what it is, how it works, who is at risk, how you can protect yourself against it, and what to do if you get attacked by this type of malware.

The Complete Guide to Protect Against Ransomware  Different Ways to Keep Your Data Safe

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a computer virus that allows hackers to encrypt your data, lock you out of your computer or network, and then demand payment in exchange for unlocking the data again. It's a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to infiltrate a computer system and disrupt operations, steal data, or extort money from its owners. Ransomware is different from other kinds of malware in that it doesn't steal data or destroy systems — it holds data and systems hostage until the victim pays a ransom to get them back. It's also a type of cyberattack that is on the rise. Ransomware attacks are expected to triple in 2023 compared to 2022, according to a report from Intel Security.

How does ransomware work?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software used to extort money from victims. It typically gains access to a computer system through an unsuspecting user who clicks on a link or opens an attachment in an email that contains malicious code. Once it has infiltrated your device, ransomware may do one of three things in order to hold your data hostage. It can:

  • Encrypt your data: The most common form of ransomware will encrypt your data and make it inaccessible to you. It may also put a message on your screen informing you that you have been hacked and your data has been encrypted.
  • Block access to your computer: Some forms of ransomware can lock you out of your entire computer or just certain programs so that you can’t access any of the data or programs on it.
  • Take over your computer: In the most extreme cases, ransomware can actually take over the entire computer so that you have no access to anything on it.

Why you should care about ransomware

Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware. According to a report, global ransomware damage will reach $30 billion in 2023. The reasons for this are several: Thanks to the rise of cryptocurrencies, paying ransoms has become easier than ever. Ransomware attacks are increasingly targeted. That is, they are designed to infect specific companies and industries. This means that the hackers behind them are usually more successful in attacking their victims. Ransomware is very easy to produce and distribute. This means that even amateurs and low-level hackers can launch successful ransomware campaigns. It is extremely difficult for companies to handle ransomware attacks. This means that even top-notch security teams can’t protect you against every form of ransomware.

Tips to protect your data against ransomware

While there's no foolproof way to prevent a ransomware attack, there are a few things you can do to lower the risk of being hit by this malicious software. These include:

  • Train your employees to spot ransomware.
  • Install a cybersecurity solution and keep it up-to-date.
  • Keep your software and operating systems up-to-date.
  • Have a data backup plan in place.
  • Use caution when clicking on links or opening attachments in emails.

3 ways to prevent ransomware from affecting your business

There are a few ways that you can protect yourself against ransomware and other types of malware. The first step is to implement a robust cybersecurity strategy that helps you prevent cyberattacks in the first place. Another important step is to have a good data backup plan in place, so that if you do get hit by ransomware, you can quickly restore your data from a safe source. Finally, you should exercise caution when clicking on links or opening attachments in emails. Keep in mind that even if you follow all of these tips, you can’t be 100% certain that a ransomware attack won’t hit your business. That’s why it’s important to have a cyber insurance plan in place. Cyber insurance policies are designed to protect organizations against the costs incurred due to cyber threats, such as ransomware and other forms of cyber attacks.


Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to extort money from victims by holding their data hostage. It typically gains access to a computer system through an unsuspecting user who clicks on a link or opens an attachment in an email that contains malicious code. Once it has infiltrated your device, ransomware may do one of three things in order to hold your data hostage: encrypt your data, block access to your computer, or take over your computer. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent ransomware attacks. Businesses can implement a robust cybersecurity strategy, have a good data backup plan in place, and exercise caution when clicking on links or opening attachments in emails.

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Online Threat Alerts Security Tips

Pay the safest way

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly.

Guard your personal information

In any transaction you conduct, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on a website’s contact information to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

Be careful of the information you share

Never give out your codes, passwords or personal information, unless you are sure of who you're dealing with

Know who you’re dealing with

Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something and know who you are sending payment to. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Check your accounts

Regularly check your account transactions and report any suspicious or unauthorised transactions.

Don’t believe promises of easy money

If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. Oftentimes, offers that seem too good to be true, actually are too good to be true.

Do not open email from people you don’t know

If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.

Think before you click

If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open any attachments or click on the links.

Verify urgent requests or unsolicited emails, messages or phone calls before you respond

If you receive a message or a phone call asking for immediate action and don't know the sender, it could be a phishing message.

Be careful with links and new website addresses

Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.

Secure your personal information

Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.

Stay informed on the latest cyber threats

Keep yourself up to date on current scams by visiting this website daily.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are critical to online security.

Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs

Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.

Update the operating systems on your electronic devices

Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

What if You Got Scammed?

Stop Contact With The Scammer

Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages, or letters that the scammer sends. Do not make any more payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming they can help you get your lost money back.

Secure Your Finances

  • Report potentially compromised bank account, credit or debit card information to your financial institution(s) immediately. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions.
  • Notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. You may also want to consider placing a free security freeze on your credit report. Doing so prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit:

Check Your Computer

If your computer was accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, check to make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and running and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek the help of a computer repair company. Consider utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable company.

Change Your Account Passwords

Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try to limit further unauthorized access. Make sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.

Report The Scam

Reporting helps protect others. While agencies can’t always track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can utilize the information gathered to record patterns of abuse which may lead to action being taken against a company or industry.

Report your issue to the following agencies based on the nature of the scam:

  • Local Law Enforcement: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Online Complaint Assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and more.
  • If someone is using your personal information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at This federal government site will also help you create your Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.

How To Recognize a Phishing Scam

Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could get access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.

Scammers often update their tactics to keep up with the latest news or trends, but here are some common tactics used in phishing emails or text messages:

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
  • say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
  • include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
  • offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real

About Online Threat Alerts (OTA)

Online Threat Alerts or OTA is an anti-cybercrime community that started in 2012. OTA alerts the public to cyber crimes and other web threats.

By alerting the public, we have prevented a lot of online users from getting scammed or becoming victims of cybercrimes.

With the ever-increasing number of people going online, it important to have a community like OTA that continuously alerts or protects those same people from cyber-criminals, scammers and hackers, who are every day finding new ways of carrying out their malicious activities.

Online users can help by reporting suspicious or malicious messages or websites to OTA. And, if they want to determine if a message or website is a threat or scam, they can use OTA's search engine to search for the website or parts of the message for information.

Help maintain Online Threat Alerts (OTA).

The Complete Guide to Protect Against Ransomware: Different Ways to Keep Your Data Safe