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Stay Alert! Watch out for new ransomware threat.

According to internet expert Kim Komando, "Ransomware is the number one digital threat in the world," costing victims nearly $1 billion in 2016 alone. Cyber criminals use ransomware to encrypt your files so you can't access them, and then demand a payment in exchange for decryption. This virtual menace is tenacious because just when one ransomware version is eradicated, a new one shows up.
 
The latest ransomware threat is called Scarab, and it's being distributed through the Necurs botnet using phishing emails. If that last sentence is gibberish to you, just know this: bad things can happen when you open the wrong email attachment.

Thankfully, Komando and others have some good tips for not getting sick with this virus:
 
- Never open attachments sent by someone you don't know or sent unexpectedly by someone you do know.
 
- Watch for suspicious subject lines such as "Scanned from Lexmark," or "Scanned from HP."
 
- Keep your operating system and all major programs up to date.
 
- Maintain strong security software.
 
- And, most importantly, regularly back up your important files.
 
If you do catch the virus, you'll see a note demanding that you respond to determine the price of your ransom. You'll have to make the decision for whether to respond or not. If you've backed up your files, you should be okay with not responding. If you don't have backups, you may elect to respond and even pay the ransom. But remember that you're dealing with unscrupulous individuals and, even if you do pay, you still might not get your files back intact. That's why backups are so important.
 
Like getting a flu shot, protecting yourself against ransomware takes some effort, but it's worth it for your peace of mind.

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