Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know what a ransomware is and why are computer security folks constantly speaking about it. To put things into context, ransomware is a malicious software that locks your computer or encrypts the files stored in it. It then demands a ransom to let go off the system or the data. What’s worse, data once encrypted by a ransomware cannot be decrypted unless you pay the ransom. To sum up, ransomware is like an illness that cannot be cured or treated once it has infected you. Nasty stuff, really.
So, what if all your important data gets locked? Should you pay the ransom?
Not discounting the fact that it’s easier said than done, we would still go with a bold ‘No’. And we have our reasons for saying so; compelling ones.
5 Reasons Not to Pay Ransom to Hackers
1. You’re dealing with an immoral lot
Creators of ransomware already lead an unscrupulous life of extorting money from their victims. For all you know, the attacker might just vanish as soon as you pay up, without giving you any information on how to get your data back.
“Expecting a fair deal from criminals is our weakness, not theirs.”
2. Your payment fuels cybercrimes
This is a no-brainer. Paying ransomware scammers only fuels their misconduct. The ransom that you pay would not only empower them to target other individuals and businesses, but the entire situation acts as a strong motivation for other cybercriminals to join forces.
“Ransomware is no less than terrorism.”
3. Your payment fuels other crimes too
Extortion, whatever form it may be in (digital or otherwise), pulls in real money for criminals. It is less likely that the money will only be invested in creating more ransomware or other malware. In fact, this very loot can further flow down into perpetuating drug smuggling, trafficking, organized crimes, etc.
“Crime does not have a dead end; it runs deep.”
4. You will be hit again, with a bigger ransom
If you pay up once, it won’t take them long to figure out that you will pay up again. And it is most likely that they will come up with a bigger price. And why not? Your data is important to you and they know that too.
“Bow down to criminals and they will climb up on your shoulders.”
5. You’ll be tagged as “The person who paid…”
As much evil as cybercriminals are, they have a social life. Besides making plans with their peers for the weekends, they also exchange information about their victims; in this case – who paid the ransom and who didn’t. And once you are tagged as “the person who paid…” then others will also try to stalk you as their cash cow.
“Predators always go for the weak in a herd.”
All this may sound scary and grim. But, this is how things are and wishing otherwise will only work against us. Realizing and admitting the power of your enemy is the first step to brave them. The only way out of the ransomware menace is cutting off their blood supply – which means, preventing your data from getting into its hands. No data, no ransom; simple! Here are some essential steps you must follow if you want to stay away from ransomware:
1. Back up your files on a regular basis. Remember to disconnect the Internet while you are backing up on an external hard drive. Unplug the drive before you go online again. Several free and paid Cloud backup services are available on the market that can take data backup periodically.
2. Use a reliable antivirus software that can block infected emails, websites, and stop infections that can spread through USB drives. Keep the software up-to-date.
3. Apply all recommended security updates for your computer’s Operating System and all other programs such as Adobe, Java, Internet Browsers, etc.
4. Do not click on links or download attachments that arrive in emails from unwanted or unexpected sources. Even if such emails seem to be from a known source, it is better to call up the sender and verify them first.
Again, whether one should pay ransom to hackers does not have an easy answer. After all, it is data that we are talking about here. Some victims may not have a choice; they need their data back. As I said, this game is nasty. So, those who haven’t had the misfortune of coming across a ransomware should take all possible preventive measures and those who have must ensure they stay well guarded against future attacks.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
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