22 Feb What is Ransomware
What is Ransomware
The Truth About Ransomware is with technology becoming more sophisticated every year, so has criminal activity. One of the most prominent methods for illegal fast cash would be the classic ransom note. Now-a-days, you don’t see newspaper and magazine clippings fashioned into a ransom note aside from classic crime thrillers. That’s because these notes have gone digital. Now in the form viruses, phishing, and scareware. Here’s what you need to know about ransomware to avoid becoming the next unfortunate victim.
What is Ransomware at its Core
The term “ransomware” is a portmanteau of software and ransom, hence ‘ransomware’. Essentially, ransomware tricks it’s hapless victim into installing it through fake sites, popups, scareware or phishing. Once the ransomware is installed, it goes on to hold the user’s computer hostage.
It could be anything from encrypting the user’s files so that they’ll have to pay to have them decrypted, or installing pornography onto the victim’s PC and having it pop up every few seconds. Some types of ransomware are even time based, much like real ransom/hostage situations. It’s very possible that one could be on the receiving end of having files deleted every 30 minutes until they pay the ransom. A scary reality indeed.
Most viruses, malware, and phishing scams could be entirely avoided with a little tech savviness, common sense, and a general sense of caution. What makes ransomware an illegal 150 million dollar market(according to the FBI), is that it preys on a less than average user’s lack of technical experience. That and the fees the bad guys are charging are pretty small. Sadly, it doesn’t take much to convince people that paying a small fee like 10-20$ can make a big problem go away.
What is Ransomware and How to Avoid a Costly Mistake
Thankfully, like most rogueware, ransomware can be completely avoided and here’s our expert advice on how to prevent an attack and how to manage one.
1. Don’t panic. If your computer is already infected, don’t panic. It might not sound like the most comforting advice when your computer has been hijacked, but panicking is usually what causes people to accidentally install more malware out of desperation or to install the ransomware in the first place.
2. Have Backups Ready. True, having backups of your files might not get rid of the ransomware in itself, but having backup files definitely helps with damage control should your entire computer become compromised. It’s best to make sure you have two sets of backups. One with private cloud storage and another located on an external hard drive you keep on hand. Be sure to update these backups regularly!
3. A handy popup blocker! If you plan on visiting a new site for the first time you’ll want to have a solid popup blocker activated before hand. Aside from preventing popups, some even warn their user about the legitimacy of certain websites. We recommend Ublock Origin for universal popup blocking and because of its flexible configuration.
4. Have good antivirus and a solid firewall! If a popup blocker is your first line of defense, then antivirus software is your second, and most important one. Good antivirus software would quarantine any suspicious file before it got too far, thus stopping the threat before it gets to the point of no return.
5. Unplug your router! Fundamentally, advanced ransomware rely on an internet connection to send data back to whoever made it. They know a good portion of users won’t pay up willingly, which is why most ransomware have keylogging programs to read your keystrokes and send back passwords, credit card numbers, etc. It isn’t unheard of for complete identity theft to start with a simple virus.
6. Let the authorities know! If ransomware has progressed to the point where you’ve been completely compromised, then you need to tell the authorities. True, there won’t be much the police themselves can do, but the FBI will need to know in the event it escalates to full-blown Identity theft.
In conclusion to What is Ransomware, one should never pay a single dime towards ransomware. It’s nothing short of extortion, which is a violation of several federal laws and an act of cyber terrorism. It’s as easily preventable as it is frightening, fortunately. With a little common sense and a level head, no one should ever be falling for ransomware.