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.


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


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.


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.


Featured photo credit: pixabay via

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George Olufemi O

Information Technologist

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.


     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.


    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence


      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.


      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]


      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.


        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.


          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]



          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via


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