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5 Things About Ransomware You Should Know

5 Things About Ransomware You Should Know

In the past, random pop ups would accost an internet user with scary messages like “Warning! Your computer is infected!” while spelling out all the dangers that accompany the infection. This was just scary because most of the time you probably haven’t opened any malicious sites, so how? Well, that’s just advertisement turned up a notch. The warning messages are usually accompanied by call to actions to download or a buy a “cleaner” to help you get rid of the infection. The only thing you need to do to get rid of the infection is close the tab with the pop up, and it all goes away.

These days, the trick has gone one better and now bears a unique name known as ‘ransomware’. Like the previous malware, ransomware hijacks your computer too but it is different from malware. So, here’s a few things you should know about ransomware.

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1. What is ransomeware?

Ransomware is best relatable with the concept of kidnap in real life. Ransomware is a sort of malware that hijacks your computer or part of your important documents and prevents you from doing anything till a ransom is paid. Call to action messages here can be friendly like: “We ran a check on your system and diagnosed that your computer has been hit with dangerous malware. Our tech guys are willing to fix this problem for you for a little fee”, or it can be aggressive like “pay up or lose your hard disk”.

2. How to stay safe

Backup is one of the most reliable ways to feel safe. With the click of a button and your sensitive data will be up in the air. Sadly, this is not enough to save you when a ransomware program hits your computer, thus you should look to make several copies and look at backup products with ransomware protection

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3. What devices do I need to protect?

Computers running on windows and MAC are susceptible to ransomware. Windows is arguably the most popular operating system out there. So, ransomware developers target PCs and MAC most of the time. However, with phones and appliances becoming smart enough to run with operating systems, several variants of ransomware have been found to plague these devices too.

4. How does ransomware spread?

Ransomware programs are mostly spread via spam emails with attachments. Avoid clicking on unexpected .exe type files attached to unexpected emails or spam. You might also want to steer clear of unexpected attachments with .zip, .doc, or .pdf file types because they could be ransomware .exe files in disguise. Away from the emails, ransomware programs can be acquired by downloading and running unsafe programs that come in form of installers.

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5. How can I surf the internet safely?

It is hard to restrain yourself from surfing the internet with caution, it doesn’t feel right. So, the piece of advice here is to use the incognito mode – a method of surfing the web via a web browser which allows a user to hide their activities from other users on a shared or personal computer by automatically deleting all cookies and history at the end of each session. In dealing with spam emails with potential dangerous attachments, utilize the email filter to block these out and delete straight away.

One can’t be too safe in preventing malware, so always keep your antivirus or malware fighter software updated and ready to work. You might just want to pay up and get over the episode quickly when hit by a ransomware program for the first time, to avoid possible loss of valuable files. It is a risk you must take amid the possibility of being shammed, but don’t let your system get hit by a ransomware program twice. Seek out preventive measures to deal with ransomware programs.

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Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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George Olufemi O

Information Technologist

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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