What is Ransomware? How to protect yourself from the cyberattack software

A global WannaCry "ransomware" cyberattack hit users last Friday, and has already infected more than 300,000 users in 150 countries.

The attacks, which experts say are potentially linked to North Korea, are among the fastest-spreading extortion campaigns on record, according to Reuters.

The attack leveraged hacking tools believed to have been developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, and disrupted hospital and companies including Britain's health system and global shipper FedEx.

Cyber extortionists tricked victims into opening malicious malware attachments to spam emails that appeared to contain invoices, job offers, security warnings and other legitimate files.

The ransomware encrypted data on the computers, demanding payments of $300 to $600 to restore access. Security researchers said they observed some victims paying via the digital currency bitcoin, though they did not know what percent had given in to the extortionists.

Here is what you need to know about protecting yourself from Ransomware cyber attacks:

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Ransomware: What you need to know
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Ransomware: What you need to know

How does "Ransomware" work?

Ransomware is the kind of malware software that encrypts and blocks access to your files. In this state of holding them ransom, it then demands money -- or Bitcoin money -- in exchange for the returning of your data.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself from this software (keep clicking):

1. Install antivirus software

2. Keep your software updated
3. Backup all of your data with relative frequency
4. If you're a business owner, create a security plan
5. Beware if you're a Windows software user, as this malware targets a flaw in older Windows systems
6. Never click on a link that seems fishy, because it probably is
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