Ransomware: Facts, Explanations and How to Prevent

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Ransomware: Facts, Explanations and How to Prevent

How safe is your computer? If you’ve sensitive information stored up, you wouldn’t want to be at the end of a ransomware attack.

Cybercriminals and hackers are getting smarter by the day and coming up with new and improved malware and viruses. Among the top threats, ransomware has emerged as one of the most serious concerns that target individuals and businesses alike.

In 2018, there were 204 million ransomware attacks, which represented a growth of 11% from 2017. In the same year, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) recorded 1,783 ransomware complaints that cost victims more than $2.3 million.

Going by the situation, it is beyond doubt that ransomware is something we all need to be wary of. In this post, we will find out all about ransomware and how you can protect yourself from it.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware or malicious software that can access files and systems on your computer and block them from further access by users. The files or disks are then encrypted and held hostage till the victim pays the demanded sum in exchange of a decryption key. You can then use the decryption key to unlock and access your files.

The first instances of ransomware were tracked back to 1980s though their prevalence became common from 2000s. The new varieties of ransomware are quite advanced and can evade detection and removal. They also use strict encryption methods which are not easy to be decrypted or reverse-engineered. So the victims have no options but to pay the ransom to the attacker to get access to his files and data.

How do Ransomware Attacks Work?

Attackers use various methods to infect your system with ransomware. The modern ransomware attacks use advanced distribution efforts and inbuilt systems to effectively spread the infection. They also use advanced development techniques and take help of crypters so that nobody can break the code. Some attackers also use offline encryption methods taking help of prebuilt system features like Microsoft’s CryptoAPI.

Ransomware can find its way into your system in various ways, just like pathogens or diseases attack the human body. Some of the common modes of infection include-

  • Email messages and attachments
  • Messages sent via social media sites or messengers
  • Pop-ups made to mimic legitimate software messages
  • Malicious websites and links

Attackers can use varied methods to compromise your system with ransomware. Then software then encrypts files, folders or entire devices and demands money from you to decrypt the files. There’s no limit as to how much you may end up paying and can be anything from $500 to $1,000.

Businesses have it worse than individuals, becoming the target of ransomware attacks that demand a large sum of money. Ransomware costs businesses over $75 billion each year with an average cost per attack of $133,000.

So it’s imperative that you take steps to protect yourself from ransomware, whether you are in individual or business. Let’s see how you can ideally protect yourself from such heinous attacks.

How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware?

  1. Use a Reliable Antivirus

A good antivirus is the first line of defense against ransomware. Modern antiviruses are designed to proactively scan for any malicious codes or programs so that they can detect ransomware in the first instance. Many antiviruses also come with strong anti-ransomware features meant to prevent and block ransomware applications from getting access to your system.

Antiviruses also offer email protection and scan every incoming message for suspicious content, links or attachments. In case any threat is detected, you are instantly notified and can quickly erase the email.

You will also be protected with a strong firewall that comes with any reliable antivirus. Some solutions also offer enhanced online security, scanning every link or website you visit. If you unknowingly try to visit links or websites with malicious content, the antivirus will block your access to keep you safe.

  1. Backup Your Files Frequently

Remember to backup your crucial files and data frequently on another server or offline resources like external disks. Even if you become a victim of ransomware, you can just format your disk and restore the files from your backup without paying the ransom for a decryption key.

 

  1. Keep Systems and Software Updated

Always remember to update your antivirus and other software with the latest patch or security updates. This way you can create a resilient system capable of detecting the latest and newest ransomware threats.

You can put your programs on auto-update so that you don’t need to worry about constantly updating them manually.

Final Thoughts

A good antivirus will go a long way to secure you from ransomware and other threats. Always choose a reliable antivirus so that you don’t have to make any compromise with your security and sensitive data.

 

 

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