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How to help prevent “ransomware” attacks

Hackers hijack computers and smartphones, here’s what to do about it

“Ransomware” is a growing threat to businesses and consumers. It’s particularly difficult to recover from this type of cyber attack, in which a hacker hijacks a computer and holds it hostage for payment. But there are steps you can take to protect your systems and devices.

Your computer is locked

Unlike other computer viruses that may go undetected by the user, ransomware is obvious. Once infected, a computer becomes inoperable or the data inaccessible. The virus may disable the computer or encrypt the hard drive, specific data, or the drive and backup systems.

Hackers demand virtual payment

Often, if a computer or multi-user computer network is infected the only options are to pay the ransom, or to replace the hardware, software and data.

Prevention is the best protection

Prevention is the best defense. As with most computer viruses, ransomware is frequently transmitted by email when users download a document or click on a link with malicious code. Always be cautious of websites and attachments — make sure you trust the source before you click or download a file.

Steps to prevent ransomware attacks

Here are some tips to help prevent ransomware from affecting your computer or system.

  • Install firewalls, antivirus and malware protection and keep all software and operating systems up to date. Back up important data frequently.
  • Don't click on links in emails unless you are certain of the source and the content. Copy and paste a link into a search engine to check for malware warnings.
  • Don't download files, particularly Word documents and PDFs unless you were expecting them and are confident in the trustworthiness of the source.
  • If you think you have a ransomware attack, don't panic. Sometimes turning off your device, or restoring factory settings can clear the problem.
  • Search the Internet for known fixes, including user forums and the manufacturer's help pages. You might seek help from an IT professinal before paying any ransom.

Read more about it now

Click here for more detailed information from an HSB cyber specialist.

HSB cyber insurance for your customers

Even your best efforts can’t always prevent a ransomware or other computer attacks. HSB offers a wide range of data and cyber insurance coverages.

HSB Total Cyber™ combines seven areas of coverage that can be configured for each client. Or you can bundle HSB Data Compromise and HSB Identity Recovery with our HSB TechAdvantage™ equipment breakdown policies.

Get more information

Rear our article, "Protect yourself from ransomware attacks," and then contact your HSB representative for more information about our insurance programs.

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How to help prevent “ransomware” attacks