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Ransomware: Who gets targeted and how can you protect yourself?

Cybersecurity experts say ransomware attacks can have long-lasting impacts on companies.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As ransomware attacks are becoming more and more frequent in today's world, many people are left wondering what they look like and how they can prevent them.

A ransomware attack is when hackers maliciously mess with a cyber system, usually systems that are needed for everyday use. All of this is done in hopes that a ransom will be paid in exchange for control of the system.

Cybersecurity experts say ransomware attacks can have long-lasting impacts on companies.

"What happens if your financial system gets disrupted in some way, you can't pay your employees or you can't pay your suppliers," said ITSC Vice President of IT and Cyber Security Shane Hammett. "We're quickly gonna get a little agitated when we can't seem to pay the bills because we haven't gotten paid by our employer."

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"What we are also seeing is that a huge amount of customers leave a company when they once they've been attacked by a ransomware demand, and they leave almost immediately," said Gray Analytics Vice President Jay Town. "And so not only do you have this, this decrease in business for the period of time of the ransomware attack but you also have this, this lingering decrease in business because you have to, you're gonna lose customers, you're gonna have to build your customer base back up."

Experts say the best way to make sure you don't become a victim is to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. Hammett says to think before you click. Sometimes, all it takes to be hacked is to click on the wrong link.

He says to hover over hyperlinks and to check the bottom left corner of the page.

"It's going to tell you where you're being directed to but a lot of times what it says in the in the contents of that highlight or that link doesn't match, match to what's in the bottom left-hand corner of that URL," said Hammett.

He also says to look for misspellings. Emails or links may appear official, but a slight misspelling could take you to a completely different location on the web, resulting in a cyber attack.

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We've seen headlines about major companies being targeted by ransomware attacks, costing them millions of dollars at times, but these attacks can hit closer to home.

"Mid-size and small businesses are attacked more often than large businesses," said Town. "So, these $50,000, $100,000 demands are very common, even though we hear about the $70 million demands. So if you think you're too small because you're a mom and pop or that you're running a 30 employee business, you're wrong."

IN OTHER NEWS: Be proactive to protect against ransomware

RELATED: Hit by a ransomware attack? Your payment may be deductible

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