We read about it in the newspapers and on TV, but we think it never can happen to us. But it can. Hackers demanding ransom are not just fishing for big fish like corporations and big businesses. They also are fishing for the little guys, who they can shake down and score on.
It has happened to friends and colleagues, and it has happened to me. The solutions are complicated, anxiety creating and expensive.
Computer thieves come at you in conniving ways, they gain your trust, and they wear you down until you make even the smallest mistake. Then they are into your computer and poised to make your life miserable and put your resources at risk.
Do not give strangers your personal information. Do not share screens with strangers. Do not trust what strangers are telling you in e-mails, on the Internet or in any other way that will allow them access to your personal information. Including your bank accounts. And your investment portfolio. And your credit card accounts. And your Social Security information. And the list goes on and on and on.
Clean up your computer so that, if you do get hacked, you are not as vulnerable as you may be at this time. Paper files worked just fine in the day, and they can work just fine now. You owe it to yourself and all those people you communicate with through your computer who do not want to become part of the problem.
Many of you are in large law firms and government agencies where training on computer security issues is standard, frequent, and required. So it is a little easier for you to be tech savvy. But just as many of you are in small firms and businesses where you do not have the luxury of that kind of training. For you, it is trial and error. And the errors can be very costly.
So, be smart. Be cautious. Be secure.