Even though we have reported numerous accounts of ransomware attacks against businesses, according to a recent survey, individuals continue to be the primary target by hackers employing ransomware.

Individual home computers are easy targets for hackers because individuals usually do not invest as much in data security measures as businesses do.

The ransomware surfaces with messages that compromising information or pictures will be released to family, friends and social media contacts, or personal information, including names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card information will be released and sold unless the individual pays the attacker between $250 and $1200 in Bitcoin in a short amount of time.

Real messages received say the following:

“Unfortunately, your data was leaked in a recent corporate hack and I now have your information. I have also used your user profile to find your social media accounts. Using this I can now message all of your friends and family members.”

“If you would like to prevent me from sharing this information with your friends and family members (and perhaps even your employers too) then you need to send the specific Bitcoin payment to the following address…”

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) gives consumers 7 ways to combat personal ransomware attacks. They are:

  1. Do not open emails or attachments from unknown individuals.
  2. Monitor bank account statements regularly and credit reports at least once a year.
  3. Do not communicate with the subject.
  4. Do not store sensitive or embarrassing photos online or on mobile devices.
  5. Use strong passwords and do not use the same password for multiple websites.
  6. Never provide personal information of any kind via email. Question any emails requesting personal information.
  7. Set security settings for social media accounts at the highest protection levels.

I would add to educate others in your household, including your children to the risks associated with ransomware and malware so they are aware of the tips and don’t unwittingly compromise your personal computer.

It is clear that ransomware is not going away, so hopefully these tips will help protect yourself and your family in the future.