Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is alerting Michigan residents, one more time, about a new, organized effort to combat ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malware that gains access to your computer or device, encrypts the operating system or individual files and effectively locks users out of their systems and prevents access to their information.

Recently, the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI and other federal agencies teamed up to launch a new website. Stop Ransomware includes comprehensive resources on preventing and responding to ransomware to help public and private organizations defend themselves against the increasing threat of hackers.

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One of the best methods to combat the spread of ransomware is human awareness. According to a release from the Attorney General’s office, one of the most common paths to a ransomware infection is downloading malware by opening an attachment or clicking on a link in an unsolicited email. Otherwise known as "phishing," these emails trick users by pretending to be from a source they trust.

In response to the website’s announcement, Nessel updated and reissued her Computer Ransomware Consumer Alert to educate Michiganders about ransomware and the new website.

There are a number of actions you can take to protect against ransomware, including:

  • Make sure all your devices are protected with comprehensive security software and keep all software up to date.
  • Update software often, as patches for flaws are typically included in each update.
  • Don’t respond to emails or text messages from people you don’t know, and only download applications from trusted sources.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, since many of them are not secure, and cybercriminals can snoop on your internet usage.
  • Back up your data onto an external hard drive or cloud regularly.
  • Remember to unplug your external device when not in use as some malware can also infect devices attached to your computer.
  • Never use USB sticks from unknown sources.

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