Most of the cyber criminals are money-driven, so their main goal is to put their hands on your hard-earned money somehow.
They can do it in various ways such as; by locking your system with ransomware and asking for a ransom; by obtaining sensitive materials so they can try to blackmail their way to your money; or they may decide to steal your login details and get access to your internet banking or other websites that may have sensitive information. Sometimes criminal will give you a chance to pay them and may get in touch with you, and sometimes they would steal from you and hope that you never find out. A lot of conversations have been going on about how to respond to them, and shall you respond at all.
While there is no easy answer to this question, sometimes less is more. Talking to the cybercriminal would only draw their focus towards you. If your files end up being locked, all you will have to do is wipe out your system and restore it from a backup. If you get blackmailed it may be worth sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and your local police officers so you can report the incident. And if a hacker ends up stealing money from your credit card, you may have to call your card issuer, request a new credit card, and get them to refund you the stolen money. You shouldn’t pay up as you may end up encouraging them, and they may come knocking on your door.
Whatever happens, you have to be prepared and avoid becoming a victim at all costs.
How to avoid being hacked?
Unless you plug out all your devices from the internet and never connect them again, the chances of you being hacked will always exist. Apart from still being vigilant and maintaining good password hygiene, there are a few main things that you should keep in mind if you do not want to become the next victim of a cybercrime.
Antivirus software needs to be present on all your connected devices. Not having reliable antivirus protection would leave you vulnerable. While having such software does not necessarily mean that you are unhackable, the chances of you getting the attention of the hackers’ decrease. Having such software on your smartphone or a laptop would make you an uneasy target as hackers won’t feel like spending so much time trying to break in when they have the option to go and quickly attack someone who has fewer layers of protection.
Keeping connected devices up to date is a must. Updates are usually released when a vulnerability is found and not having your device running an OS that is fully up-to-date may result in you or your loved ones becoming a target. The annual report recently released by the European law enforcement agency Europol highlighted that approximately 1 million networks are open to attacks as they still haven’t been patched against the powerful BlueKeep vulnerability that allows unauthorized access leveraging weaknesses in Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol.
Even though the weakness is known and a patch has been issued, network administrators have not taken the measurements to update their systems.
Securing an offline backup is always worth it. A business should be creating backups of their files every day, and everyday people should consider backing up personal data at least once a week. In this case, if god forbid a ransomware hits you, you won’t have to pay the ransom, but you will have to wipe your storage and load the backup.
Malicious actors exist, and sometimes they will try to take advantage of you. If you are protected, you will most likely never have to choose whether you should pay the cybercriminal or ignore them. All you will have to do is ignore them and either load a backup or report them to the authorities.