Lately, it’s hard to miss the news coverage of hackers placing malicious code on computers all over the world that encrypt the entire system making it inaccessible by the owner. The latest example was the wanna cry ransomware attack in May, 2017. The idea is simple, make the owner pay to have their own files unlocked. The hackers spread the code in a number of ways: “phishing” scams or by opening infected documents that are sent as email attachments. Once the code is on the target computer, it goes to work encrypting the hard drive, and anything stored there is hidden from the owner. If the owner pays the hacker’s ransom, the computer is decrypted by the use of a code.
Fortunately, some of these ransomware codes are being stored and are available thanks to a new website. Nomoreransom.org is a site where you can get your digital life back. The site walks you through sending encrypted files to them and they determine if a solution exists to decrypt the file. If a solution exists, they walk you through downloading the fix. With many people traveling internationally, the real possibility of having your computer exposed to networks that are not secure or are already infected exists. I have not personally tried this site, but it is certainly something to keep in mind if you or someone you know may need it.
If you do use a public Wifi network (either domestically or internationally), you should use a virtual private network (VPN) that allows you to securely and anonymously access the internet. Grant wrote a good blog post about VPNs here: ExpressVPN lets you Browse the Internet Securely & Anonymously + Free 30 Day Trial (Desktop/Laptop/Mobile App). You should also have automatic software updates and updated antivirus software. Travel safe and stay safe online.