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Introduction to Ransomware

Ransomware is a kind of malware that disables the control of an individual’s system until a certain amount of money is paid by them to the attackers. It is also termed as ‘scareware’ since it pressurizes a user to pay in order to attain the decrypt key. Ransomware has developed over the years and the latest ones also known as crypto-ransomware, encrypt or lock certain types of file on a system and forces the user to pay a ransom via online payment methods in order to obtain the decrypt key. Cyber criminals having almost no technical background are also able to access Ransom-as-a-service programs and harm systems with almost zero effort.

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts victim’s files with unbreakable encryption and then demands payment, typically around $200 to $500 in bitcoins, in order to unlock and get your data back.

Ransomware is not new, In fact, forms of ransomware have been around for over a decade.

Ransomware is intended to scam organization and generate direct revenue. Locker ransomware, crypto ransomware, misleading apps, fake antivirus installation are the four most prevalent direct revenue-generating risks that today are businesses should be aware of.

Ransomware, it takes control of your PC, and wants you to pay to get it back ,denies the access to files until a ransom has been paid since it can take different forms.

Implementing a good backup and recovery strategy is the surest way of guaranteeing that you can always recover your data regardless of whether your data loss occurred because of a hardware failure, human error, natural disaster, or ransomware attack.

Methods to Procure Digital Payments

Cyber criminals use the following methods to procure digital payments from their victims:

  1. The user may be asked to pay an amount to get the decrypt key which if not paid may lead to the destruction of the decrypt file.
  2. The victim may be tricked into believing that they are under an official enquiry due to procurement of information about illegal or unauthorized web content on their system along with the instruction on how the fine is to be paid electronically.
  3. The criminal attacks and encrypts the files on a user’s computer; post encryption he sells users a product, which helps the victim unlock files and prevent future malware attacks.

Ransomware Infection and Behavior

Ransomware may be downloaded as a result of visiting malicious or compromised websites or through other malware that exists on the system, some are also delivered as attachments from emails or through malicious advertisements—malvertisements. Once ransomware or crypto-ransomware runs on the system it either locks the screen or encrypt predetermined files and a full screen notification is displayed on the screen preventing the user from doing anything. The displayed notification has directions on how to pay for the decrypt key or it blocks access to files that are vulnerable.

Preventing Ransomware

Ransomware is a harmful and scary term but preventing Ransomware is easy.

  • Back up data

Backing up your data regularly plays a significant role in preventing Ransomware. If an individual’s system is attacked with ransomware and the documents are lost, they can be restored from the backup created—significantly restoring the system to the earlier settings.

  • Show hidden file-extensions
    Cryptolocker often arrives in a file that ends with the extension “.PDF.EXE”, counting on Window’s default setting of hiding known file-extensions. If the ability to see the full file-extension is re-enabled, it becomes easier to spot such suspicious files.
  • ​​Software update

Malware instigators often rely on people using outdated software with known vulnerabilities, which can be injected to the system—unnoticed. Updating regularly can drastically decrease the potential for ransomware threat if made a practice of updating ones software often. Facilitating routine updates, or going directly to the software vendor’s website can also help prevent such happenings.

  • Use a reputable security suite
    Having an anti-malware software and a software firewall, helps users identify threats or suspicious behavior. If the system runs across a ransomware variant that is so new that it gets through anti-malware software, it may still be caught by a firewall when it attempts to connect with its Command and Control (C&C) server to receive instructions for encrypting your files.

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