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What is Ransomware?

Parker Byrd

In the past few years, more and more people encountered ransomware on their computer. This dangerous type of malware has the potential to generate a lot of problems, for both regular users and businesses alike. But what is ransomware, why is it so dangerous and how can we get rid of it? Let’s find out.

Understanding what is ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that causes damage by encrypting either one or more files on the victim’s computer. It will usually try to lock executables or specific formats, including office formats. Once the file is locked, the victim is not able to access it and they will need to pay a ransom to regain access to it. 

The user is shown specific instructions on how to pay in order to acquire the decryption key. In order to stay anonymous, attackers will always focus on getting paid via Bitcoin. That’s because the cryptocurrency transfers are almost impossible to track, which makes them ideal for them.

How can you get ransomware on your computer?

One of the most common ways you get ransomware on the computer is via phishing attacks. An infected file is sent as an attachment, and upon downloading and using it, the victim automatically infects the entire computer. Some types of ransomware actually have their own social engineering tools that trick the user into offering administrative access. Sometimes the attackers might claim they are a law enforcement agency and require you to complete all types of tasks in order to offer the attackers control to the computer. There are all kinds of methods used, so you need to find ways to protect yourself.

Who is the main target for ransomware?

As you can imagine, anyone can end up the victim of a ransomware attack, even regular people. However, most of the ransomware attacks are targeted towards businesses in the Western markets, firms that have a lot of sensitive data, organizations with a lot of money that can’t afford losing data and which pay very fast or groups that have a very small security team or no security at all.

Things you can do in order to protect yourself from ransomware

  • Make sure that you install security software on your computer. This will lower the chances of dealing with such an attack. You also need to keep the security software up to date, as updates can help you deal even with the latest attacks.
  • Speaking of updates, you also want to update your operating system and any software you use. This way you get access to the best and latest security features.
  • Study every email, see where it comes from and don’t download any file or open any link. Unless the email comes from someone you know, it’s better to just ignore it.
  • Create a backup of your data to an external drive. In case the data itself is locked, you can easily use another computer and access the external drive. Of course, you need to update that data often.

Using these tips is very helpful and it will eliminate many of the ransomware attacks that appear. On top of that, if you do end up with ransomware on your computer, avoid paying the ransom. If you do, the attacker can request you to pay again and again, as there’s no limit. Contacting the authorities and hiring cyber security experts to help you regain control over your file is the right thing to do!

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