Ransomware is a type of malware that has plagued businesses for many years. It poses an imminent threat to any company that doesn't have the resources to protect themselves from it—and even some that do! This blog post will walk you through what ransomware is, how it works, and give you tips on how to avoid being victimized by this widespread cyber crime.
In today's digital age, hackers can infect your computer with ransomware in just a few clicks without ever having to touch your physical machine. A hacker may send a phishing email asking for login credentials or install malicious software onto your device while visiting a compromised website. Once installed on the victim's machine, the malware encrypts all files on their system, rendering them inaccessible until you pay up to retrieve them.
If this sounds like something you want to avoid, then please read on to learn how to protect yourself from ransomware!
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access to the victim's data or threatens its destruction (by deleting it, encrypting it, etc.) unless a ransom is paid. This cyber crime has been around for many years, but with each new evolution comes more dangerous ransomware strains and even more extortion opportunities. As long as there are unsuspecting victims with valuable data, there will be hackers looking to capitalize on this lucrative business model.
What are the Different Ransomware Types?
Currently, ransomware comes in different forms that all behave slightly different from each other—and even encrypt some files while leaving others alone! For example, CryptoLocker only targets personal documents and pictures for encryption while leaving system files intact. Cryptowall, on the other hand, is much more destructive by wiping out your hard drive.
While it's true that there are several types of ransomware—each with its own methodologies and encryption tactics—the general steps to getting infected have remained relatively unchanged over time:
After infiltration, the malware will encrypt any files it can find and append a unique extension to each one. For example, the "crypto" variant of ransomware will encrypt your personal photos or documents with ".Crypz."
This prevents you from opening any encrypted file on your system which is why we recommend never paying up if you're victimized by this cyber crime! Unfortunately, the only way to unlock your files is by decoding them with a decryption key.
What are Ransomware Prevention Methods?
There is no antivirus software that can protect you from ransomware because it's installed on your system before any security tools have time to catch up. The best way to avoid this cyber crime is by being vigilant about what you click and download online.
Malicious email campaigns (phishing), compromised websites, and other forms of social engineering are the most common ways that ransomware enters your system.
The best way to protect yourself from getting infected is by following these prevention tips:
- Do not trust emails or attachments sent from unknown senders—even if they appear to come from someone you know!
- Do not visit or download anything from unfamiliar websites.
- Make sure your system is running the latest security updates and always back up all of your files!
This way, even if ransomware does infect your computer, you can simply restore a clean backup to get rid of it.
How Can You Prevent Ransomware Infections?
As previously mentioned, the best way to prevent ransomware infections is by practicing good cybersecurity habits like avoiding suspicious emails and websites. However, you also need a solution that can detect malware before it has time to encrypt your files. This requires an endpoint protection platform (EPP) with real-time detection technology. Since ransomware enters your system through malicious email campaigns or compromised websites, this type of EPP will ensure that files are monitored for suspicious activity even before they become encrypted.
If you're interested in learning more about how ransomware works and what steps you need to take to protect yourself from getting infected, please don't hesitate to contact us here at One Step Secure IT. We'll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have and discuss how our EPP can help protect your business from these destructive cyber crimes.
What Can I Do if My System is Infected with Ransomware?
If you do happen to get infected by ransomware, make sure not to pay the ransom! This only encourages hackers and will put your money in their pockets while your files remain encrypted. Instead, our experts recommend restoring a clean backup of all personal data from before the infection occurred. If you don't have one, then having an expert like One Step Secure IT remove the ransomware from your system first is crucial to getting rid of this type of malware for good!
As a final note, please be aware that if you do pay the ransom, there's no guarantee that hackers will actually send you a decryption key. In fact, this cyber crime is so prevalent because the money they make from victims has incentivized hackers to keep up their destructive operations.
So, what can you do now to make sure your business doesn't get taken hostage? The first thing is to be aware of the risks. If you haven't already done so, sign up for a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment from us and we'll give you an in-depth look at your company's security vulnerabilities. That way, if anything does happen (and it very well could), you're prepared and protected.
Topic: How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware