Viruses have always been a dangerous part of the modern computer user’s life. From the days of Apple II’s, Windows 95, iMacs, and into the days of Windows 10 and Mac OSX, staying safe and clean on the internet has been a constant game of catch-up and awareness.

The ransomware epidemic is no different in risk than any other computer virus, malware, or hack in recent history, so why is it such a big deal? Mostly because of one major factor: it’s hard to crack.

The Right Security In The Wrong Hands

Information security is a major industry. For governments, corporations, organizations, and individuals, having the perfect digital safe to protect their information is an amazing tool.

That great tool is exactly what makes ransomware so dangerous.

The danger in ransomware isn’t in some high-tech, malicious, scary code dreamt up by the worst hackers. The infection part is rather simple to remove in many cases, and is often simple enough to launch its payload and do damage quickly. Viruses are programs, too, and running too slowly can lead to crashes or interruption.

Instead, hackers are using encryption to protect your files…from you. It is extremely difficult—although not possible—for the most powerful tech companies, well-equipped governments, and the hackers that they hire to break through this encryption.

Hackers are basically giving you access to the best security around, but selling you the key.

The Best Protection Is Not Getting Infected In The First Place

It’s not advice that ransomware victims want to hear, but people who haven’t been infected need to heed the call of security experts across the world: backup your data and start practicing better security now.

The basics of protection are simple enough to fall into two major camps: backing up and hardening.

Backing up your data means transferring all of your important information to another storage area. It could be an external hard drive, a thumbdrive/jump drive, optical disks, or even magnetic tape. Online or cloud storage options are also available, allowing you to access your files across the internet as needed.

The backups need to be made before infection, and if you want the best chance of security, make sure to have multiple days of backups. If you somehow backup infected files and compromise your entire backup, you’ll still have a backup from a few days ago to work with.