Ransomware 101

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts files on an infected device and holds them hostage until the user pays a ransom to the malware operators. Millions of dollars have been extorted through ransomware attacks

Types of Ransomware

  1. Encrypting ransomware, which integrates advanced encryption algorithms. It’s designed to block system files and demand payment to provide the victim with the key that can decrypt the blocked content.
  2. Locker ransomware, which locks the victim out of the operating system, making it impossible to access the desktop and any apps or files. The files are not encrypted in this case, but the attackers still ask for a ransom to unlock the infected computer.

How Ransomware Works

Ransomware usually enters devices as a Trojan, disguised as a normal file that is downloaded unintentionally by the user.

Upon execution, ransomware begins encrypting the files on an infected device and typically displays a message informing the victim that their files can only be decrypted if a ransom is paid to the attackers.

The user is prompted to pay the operators, who may or may not supply a code or program to decrypt the files. Failure to pay the ransom within the time frame provided can result in an increased ransom amount or deletion of the encrypted files.

The most effective and dangerous types ransomware are those where only the creators of the program have access to the decryption key.

How Do I Protect Myself?

Prevention and Removal

  • Computer users should make sure their firewalls are always on
  • Avoid questionable websites and be alert when opening any suspicious email messages.
  • Choosing proven antivirus software from a reputable company can help protect your computer against the latest ransomware threats.
  • Make sure your IT Company scans any suspicious emails or attachments before opening

Tips for Ransomware Protection:

  • Back up your files regularly and frequently: having diligent data backup processes in place can limit the damage caused by a ransomware attack significantly, as encrypted data can be restored without paying a ransom.
  • Complete operating system and any software updates as soon as possible: software updates typically contain patches for security vulnerabilities and should be installed as soon as they’re made available.
  • Do not click on email attachments or links from unconfirmed sources: email is a popular medium for attacks that spread ransomware or other malware via infected attachments or links to malicious websites.
  • Disable remote desktop connections when possible: disabling this feature will prevent attackers or malware from being able to access users’ devices and files remotely.
  • Have a IT professional scan any suspicious emails or activity on your computer for the proper removal of possible ransomware/viruses

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