Protecting Against Ransomware

Ironically, the cure is the same as the disease.

Ransomware, malicious software that attacks your computer and encrypts all your data, has been in the news more and more often. The recent attack by the "WannaCry" ransomware which hit computers all over the world last week, including hospitals in England, has many people concerned.

Encryption software can be a double-edged sword. It can be used for good or for evil, as shown by the WannaCry attack. Ransomware uses encryption software to lock up data and try to extort money from its victims. But, smart computer users who have already deployed their own encryption software can protect their devices from these attacks, as well as from unwanted snooping. James Crace of Cloudwards provides step-by-step instructions for encrypting your hard drive, whether you are using a Windows, Mac, or Linux operating system.

Supporting Web Links

Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. This article provides an opportunity to review good computer safety habits and practices. Do students know how to avoid falling into ransomware traps? Do they know what to do if they become a victim? 
  2.  Divide the class into small groups. Each group should research some aspect of ransomware, such as how the software is created and what programming language(s) is most frequently used or how ransomware can be defeated. Groups may also want to investigate the technology involved with Bitcoin or how antivirus companies identify ransomware and other forms of malware. Each group should create an informative video or presentation to explain their research to the class.
  3. As an individual project, ask students to create a poster or infographic to explain the encryption process.


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