What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is computer malware (a Trojan) designed and used to extort money and blackmail cyber victims. Once installed, Ransomware encrypts data on local hard drives as well as other media and connected network shares. Once data is encrypted the victim can no longer access there own information. You will know your infected if your computer displays a ransom message that demands a payment in order to undo the encrypting data. Ransomware has proven to be a very profitable business and as a result I would expect it to be around for a long time.
How can Ransomware get on your computer?
The most common ways in which Ransomware can infect your computer is by the use of phishing emails or by visiting a website that contains a malicious program. Ether way, once they trick you into clicking an email link or attachment, you allow the infection to occur. In most cases a ransom message will appear once a restart is done on the infected computer. Ransomware messages and methods may differ slightly. The main theme is that they try to trick you with popups or fake claims with messages about illegal content, unlicensed applications or pretending to be from a law enforcement agency with a claim to have found child pornography on your computer, etc, etc…
How can you protect yourself against Ransomware?
There are many strategies that can be used. Each of these are very different in the way they can help you. Some proactive and some reactive. It would be wise to take the following actions, for maximum protection.
- Invest in user education on the dangers of phishing. Don’t click on email links or attachments that don’t seem legit.
- Do not click on any computer popup messages. Instead restart your system or end task on that browser window.
- Deploy antivirus and security software as part of a strong endpoint (computer) control strategy.
- Perform backups of all your data on a daily basis and test the backups periodically.
- Use more than one backup strategy as well as strategies that fit your recovery objectives.
- Keep in mind that if you don’t have a backup or if your backup is infected, as a last resort you may have to pay ransom to decrypt the files and get your data back. In some cases, even if you payed you still may not get your data back.
- Finally, keeping your systems up-to-date and on the latest software versions is best practice.
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