2017 was all about ransomware. There was news about the WannaCry attack in May, Petya in June, BadRabbit in October, but do you really know what it’s all about? Let’s make it clear.
Ransomware is one of the most dangerous type of cyber attack. Ransomware attacks mostly target organizations and businesses but since it spreads through the internet without discrimination, no one is completely safe.
We’ve covered the most essential information on ransomware and included tips on how you can efficiently prevent your computer and data getting compromised.
Interested enough by now? Let’s get into.
What is Ransomware All About?
Ransomware is a type of malware (or malicious software) that locks the users’ files or complete system, usually by encryption, and demands a ransom for decryption in some form of cryptocurrency. In some cases, if a user decides to pay the ransom, they might regain access to their files. However, there were a few examples where users didn’t receive their data back. The other less common form of ransomware is called leakware, in which the attacker threatens you to pay or your private data goes public. Mobile ransomware first appeared in 2015 as the form of a porn application for Android devices.
How It Spreads
Ransomware can be downloaded via a malicious email attachment or together with an infected software. It can be downloaded when visiting a harmful website. Another form of transmission is when a user clicks on a malvertisement (malicious advertisement). It can also be delivered and downloaded by other malware.
Forms of Ransomware
1. Non- encrypting ransomware
This type of ransomware is rather scary than harmful since it doesn’t encrypt files on the computer. The most common non- encrypting ransomwares are the “law enforcement agency viruses”. These usually display a whole-screen message demanding a ransom for different criminal acts or face charges, fines and even imprisonment. Non- encrypting ransomwares can be easily detected and removed with good anti-malware software.
Now let’s turn to the most dangerous type of ransomware, which are…
2. Encrypting ransomware
This is the most typical form of ransomware. It encrypts your files or even servers and asks for a ransom. Now hackers use strong public-key encryption to lock the files which makes it impossible to get access without the decryption key.
3. Leakware/ Doxware
Leakware or doxware is a form of attack that threatens to publish sensitive information from the user’s computer unless a ransom is paid. These malware don’t encrypt files on the victim’s computer, however the virus still gets access to information that harms the victim’s privacy.
4. Mobile ransomware versions
In 2015, a mobile ransomware version appeared on Android called Porn Droid. It locked the user’s phone along with changing the PIN number, demanding a ransom of $500. Mobile ransomware are usually blockers since data can be easily restored with synchronization. Devices are mainly infected through third-party applications installed as APK files. There are even methods for iOS devices that exploit iCloud while others use the “Find My iPhone” app to block access to the phone.
How to Prevent Ransomware
If it’s about ransomware, the primary focus should be on prevention since removal can be difficult, costly and sometimes ineffective. Take a look at our most effective ransomware prevention methods below:
1. Always be up to date
Making sure your anti-malware, anti-virus and other protective software is up to date is essential for keeping up with hackers and the most advanced security measures. Use multiple software combined and run regular scans for the best protection.
2. Be careful with email attachments
Avoid open suspicious email attachments from untrusted sources, always double check what it might be about. Also, don’t click on shortened or fishy links unless you are confident about where it leads. You can additionally block executable files or entire attachments through email.
3. Secure your network
Network security is an often overlooked topic but it’s actually one of the most important measures to take for keeping your online activities as secure as possible. There are plenty of ways to do that from firewalls to secure DNS setup on routers. However, one of the best methods for online privacy is to use a virtual private network. For example, you can take a look at the most trusted VPNs so you can easly and effectively make your network safer.
4. Avoid suspicious websites
One of the most common ways to get infected with ransomware is through websites. Double check the URL before clicking on it. Hackers often create similar sites like large companies to trick users so be careful even with known websites, check the spelling and if you suspect something, run a website scan.
5. Make sure you have a great backup
The most promising way of a successful and positive outcome from a ransomware attack is to maintain an up-to-date backup of all your neccessary files. Even if you catch a ransomware, you can completely recover your files.
Conclusion on Ransomware
We all know ransomware is dangerous for your data. Fortunately, by implementing these preventive steps you can secure your online presence as well as keeping your data safe.