Ransomware is a type of malicious software that denies access to your computer system and data and gives you back access only after a certain amount of ransom money has been paid. Ransomware spreads by users accidentally visiting malicious websites or through phishing emails. Ransomware can be dangerous to individuals and organizations. The data on your computer will be locked by encryption and payment is demanded before which you can gain access to your computer. The motive behind this ransomware attack is usually monetary. Payment is usually demanded in virtual currency such as bitcoin so as to not reveal the identity of the hacker.
Ransomware generally spreads by malicious email attachments, infected software apps, infected external storage devices and unsecured websites. To be on the safer side, it is always better to be aware of the consequences of a ransomware attack and be prepared for it if it should ever happen to you.
Two important steps to protect you from ransomware include:
Preparation: Make a backup of all of your data.
Identification: Ransomware typically appears as phishing emails, either with links to unattended and malicious websites with infected files as attachments. Another way ransomware gains entry into your computer is by a popup that informs you of an impending cyber attack and for a free scan, you will be protected. These are all scams. Malicious advertising on a secure website can also be the first signs of a ransomware attack.
Steps taken to prevent such attacks from taking place:
- Backup your files on a separate drive because ransomware has the specific ability to encrypt the information residing in your files, so it is better to make a backup of the files in a separate drive folder which you do not visit often.
- You need to ensure that these files can be restored completely from the backup and you can liaison with software personnel to restore files from backups.
- Make sure that your antivirus software is up to date and functional because anti-viruses software may detect malicious content in files.
- Ensure that your desktop and mobile devices are up to date with patches
- Don’t work with administrator accounts that have been given privileges and permissions, but are now common to both yourself and the ransomware in the event of a ransomware attack.
If you think that your computer has already been compromised or is at risk of ransomware attack, immediately update your IT service desk. As a precaution, you should switch off Wi-Fi and unplug the computer.