(405) 919-9901

In my free, one-night-only class called “Fight the Internet Bad Guys & Win,” we will discuss many threats Internet users are faced with, including “ransomware,” a scheme where your personal files are scrambled by encryption, and then held hostage until you pay a “ransom” to un-scramble them.

Come to the Norman Public Library’s Downtown location, Wednesday, November 8th, 7pm, and I will show you how to stay safe on the Internet. Everyone of all ages who uses an Internet-connected device needs to be there. Come early, seating is limited. Call (405) 701-2600 or visit pioneer.libnet.info/event/275796 to register.

The new ransomware threat making the round this week has been named Bad Rabbit by its criminal creators. Users infect their computers by installing a fake Adobe Flash Player update. Once installed, hapless users discover they can no longer open and use their personal files, including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, family photos, and the like. Instead, they are presented with a notice demanding payment in the form of 1/2 Bitcoin, or around $293 at today’s exchange rate.

The FBI warns against paying the ransom, as doing so is no guarantee you’ll get your files back; the bad guys may just take your money and run. Conversely, some experts say you should pay the ransom, saying ransomware crooks have realized it’s bad form to not deliver the goods, as that can discourage other people from paying, as well.

How can you protect against Bad Rabbit? Since it spreads by tricking people into installing fake Adobe Flash Player updates, make sure you don’t install any fake Flash updates. Simple, right? It is simple, actually. Keep in mind that real Flash Player updates will never appear on a random website page. If you see something claiming to be a Flash Player update on a website page, look at the top of the window; it should say get.adobe.com/flashplayer in the address bar. If adobe.com is not part of the address, it’s fake. Don’t click.

Another fake update becoming rampant is the fake Firefox update. Keep in mind that the Firefox Web browser always updates itself, without throwing up big notices on the screen. If you ever see a big, orange Firefox logo filling up the screen, screaming, “Urgent Firefox Update,” look closer. You’ll see it’s actually nothing more than a webpage that you’re seeing. It’s fake. Don’t click anything on the page. Instead, click the X in the upper right corner, close the browser, and be safe.

The best way to protect against ransomware is also the easiest way: backup your files. Backup, backup, backup. To backup ones files means you keep copies of your files in different locations, so if one copy gets in trouble, you have a good copy somewhere else to replace the one that’s gone bad.

Your files should actually exist in three different places; 1) on the main hard drive in your computer. 2) On an external device like a flash drive or external hard drive, and, 3) in the “cloud” somewhere, using an online backup service like Carbonite (carbonite.com) or Acronis True Image (acronis.com). That way, God forbid, the tornado blows away your computer, and also blows away the backup files you keep on your external drive, you still have a copy online that you can download into a replacement computer, and you haven’t lost a thing (except a replaceable computer).