What is a Ransomware?
Ransomware is a form of malware that prevents users from accessing their computers or system normally. The moniker “ransom” is due to the fact that computer hijackers will ask their victims to pay a ransom before receiving a decryption key to (allegedly) resume full access to their computer.
Ransomware attacks can strike anything from home computers to business networks to government servers.
Basically, ransomware has the potential to:
- Prevent users from accessing their operating system
- Encrypt files to render them unusable
- Install unwanted files
- Stop certain programs from running, such as web browsers
According to industry experts, there are currently over 120 separate types of ransomware, accounting for a whopping 3,500% rise in its criminal use, with accumulating evidence suggesting that this upsurge shows no indications of slowing down or stopping. The FBI reports that criminal profits from ransomware attacks exceed $150 million each year.
Driving this increase is the extreme lucrativeness criminals enjoy, as well as freely available ransomware source code, the latter of which enables even amateurs to reap the benefits. Experts cite the combination of simplicity of use, low risk, and potentially high reward makes ransomware highly appealing.
According to SentinelOne founder Tomer Weingarten, of particular concern is the growing awareness that ransomware is becoming increasingly resistant to traditional antivirus and other security software.
Protecting Yourself against Ransomware
There are several measures which have been proven effective in preventing a ransomware attack. They include:
- Using reputable antivirus software and a strong firewall
- Backing up your data regularly, either to an external hard drive or online service
- Enabling your pop-up blocker to reduce the potential to click on an infected site
- Being cautious regarding email links and suspicious-looking websites
- If you receive a ransomware notification, disconnecting your computer from the Internet
- Alerting authorities
If you receive a ransomware note, cyber-security specialists recommend not paying it because, in most cases, the thieves will attempt further extortion and will likely not release your information.
As always, Nerds in a Flash is here to help. If you are in need of assistance with a ransomware or any other type of infection contact us for computer repair.