In a highly online world, it stands to reason that online hacking and threats are only getting more and more sophisticated. Malware and hacking attempts are common, intended to either infect your computer with a virus or steal your data. That is the key point about Ransomware, a new type of malware that threatens to hold your personal data hostage.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a new type of malware that comes from the study of cryptovirology – the study of using cryptography to craft incredibly powerful malicious software. With Ransomware in particular, personal data is stolen and/or access to your computer is frozen. The hackers responsible can either threaten to publish your personal information or keep your computer locked unless you pay a fee, leading to the name Ransomware.
Ransomware often blocks you from accessing your own data. It will be encrypted by the hackers in order to block it completely until you pay. This software can infect individuals and businesses alike. Nobody is above becoming a target.
How does Ransomware Work?
As we’ve outlined, Ransomware encrypts your data. The hackers will possess a completely unique and private key that can decrypt your data, returning it to normal. This kind of scheme is incredibly hard to outmaneuver due to the fact that your data could be destroyed. After your data has been stolen, your computer might freeze.
A message will pop up on the screen, sometimes pretending to be a software company that has frozen your computer due to missed payments or even pretending to be the FBI or CIA investigating you for serious crimes. Sometimes, the message can be from the hackers directly. The one thing they have in common is that they all demand payment. Sadly, many people end up simply paying the fine due to fear their data will be leaked or because they have fallen for the scam message.
Where have we seen Ransomware before?
You may already be familiar with Ransomware, as several online attacks have been launched that targeted users. One was Cryptolocker, which from 2013 to 2014 was spread via infected email attachments. It would infect computers and search for files to encrypt and hold hostage. Similarly, Cryptowall is a Ransomware scheme that infects your computer and encrypts important files. It can sometimes even download itself to the computer and hide in order to avoid deletion.
How can you avoid Ransomware?
All hope is not lost! There are some ways to avoid being infected with Ransomware. First, ensure that your systems, browsers, and software are all updated. Outdated technology is easier to hack. Along these same lines, ensure that you backup your data to avoid losing it forever if it is held for ransom. Finally, use a strong security solution! Cybersecurity assistance is available from companies like LaserCycle USA to ensure that breaching your computer is close to impossible for potential hackers.
By being aware, avoiding suspicious downloads, and seeking professional help, you can protect yourself from Ransomware attacks.