Ransomware is a type of malware that, after it infects the target computer, has the ability to hold data hostage. This can range from a simple message stating that to obtain the user’s data back, they must first pay a ransom fee.
Other types of ransomware encrypt data and only decrypt it upon paying the fee, this can vary from select files to the entire hard drive being encrypted. Ransomware is usually delivered through a trojan horse package, or through a malicious email attachment.
There have been a number of major ransomware attacks in the past, most recently with the WanaCry ransomware attack, which infected over 200.000 users in May of 2017. Ransomware attacks sometimes entail hackers posing as law enforcement or other types of authorities in order to further compliance and payment.
There are several different methods to extort money from targets, including infecting computers and also selling anti-ransomware on legitimate websites, or simply sending an email note in exchange for a decryption key. Usually, hackers specify a date and time when the ransom must be payed out, or users face their data being permanently lost.
There are two forms of ransomware known on the internet, Encrypting ransomware and Locker ransomware. The former blocks system files by encrypting them and soliciting money in exchange for the decryption key. The latter simply locks the victim from their operating system. This makes it impossible for the user to access the desktop. The most widespread type of malware today is encrypting ransomware.
Preventative measures you can take
It is hard to fully prevent ransomware, but, as always, there are some basic steps you can take to fully protect yourself from these malicious activities. Regularly backing up and storing data can be a lifesaver when your computer has been infected with ransomware. If you have your data backed up, you can use System Restore (If you have it enabled,) to take your system to a clean state. Alongside this, keeping your antivirus and other software updated to combat vulnerabilities is essential.
As always, staying vigilant, knowing which sites you are visiting and what you are downloading are good tips to keep in mind. A large percentage of virus’ are preventable and can be avoided with just some vigilance.
What do I do if I have Ransomware?
There are scores of useful programs available on the web to combat ransomware and its spread. An updated antivirus should pick up most ransomware attacks before they happen on your computer, such as nomoreransom or Bitdefender. Some large antivirus companies also have free ransomware tools; Avast, AVG.