Ransomware has become a significant threat to businesses and individuals alike. The malware usually encrypts files on your PC or smartphone and demands payment via Bitcoin, PayPal, or other methods. If you don’t take action now, you risk losing important data and having to pay a hefty price to recover it.
What Is Ransomware?
The first generation of ransomware was called crypto lockers because of the malware encrypted files. Cryptolocking used symmetric encryption techniques such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). These were not strong enough for modern computers.
In recent years, new types of ransomware have been developed, which employ asymmetric digital signatures to lock up users’ files. Asymmetric means that two parties use different keys to sign messages, so they are only valid if both keys match.
In this case, one key is created with an algorithm like RSA. In contrast, another key is generated from a user-entered password. This signature allows the attacker to prove ownership of the file and claim that it can be unlocked with a specific key.
So how do hackers get away with locking up your sensitive information? With phishing emails. Hackers send out thousands upon thousands of spam campaigns worldwide every day. They often include websites to ask victims to enter passwords or download attachments that install malware. When a victim clicks on the link, the website automatically downloads the malware onto the computer.
Once installed, the ransomware encrypts files on the hard drive, preventing them from accessing legitimate applications. There may be no indication that something is wrong unless the machine stops working altogether. Once the encryption process starts, there is no way to unlock the files without ransom.
In lieu hiring an IT security provider of here are ways to prevent this type of attack:
1. Don’t click on suspicious links in email
Some emails may look like they’re coming from someone you know; however, clicking on them could infect your system. You might think you’re downloading a PDF document when instead you’ve downloaded a Trojan horse.
Be wary of links in spam emails that seem too good to be true. To get infected, phishers will often lure people into giving up personal information, including bank account details and other confidential details. To avoid falling prey to this scam, check the sender’s address before opening any attachment. Also, make sure that you’re using antivirus software and keeping it updated.
2. Use a VPN service
The Virtual Private Network is simply a secure connection between a client device and its host server. Using a VPN protects your online activities by encrypting your IP address, making it more difficult for others to trace your location. It also helps protect against man-in-the-middle attacks, in which a hacker impersonates the server you’re talking to.
3. Keep your operating systems updated
It’s best practice to keep your operating systems updated. The sooner you update your security patches, the earlier potential threats can be blocked.
4. Install anti-malware tools on your desktop and mobile devices
Malicious programs cannot spread from device to device unless they are already present on the target device. Malware can be removed through the normal processes of updating apps and deleting old ones. A full antivirus scan should always be performed once per week.
5. Use antivirus products
Antivirus software is essential for protecting computers from malicious viruses and worms. If you don’t have a quality product, consider purchasing one now. Most companies offer free trial versions, so you can test their protection capabilities before upgrading.
6. Back Up Your Files Regularly
Ransomware not only locks up valuable data but also makes it inaccessible. To restore access, you should create backups often enough to restore the original files as soon as possible. Backup software such as Carbonite can help ensure files are backed up correctly.
7. Check Your Email Account for Spam Messages
You should never open unsolicited emails or click on a link that seems suspect. Emails requesting personal details or paying money quickly leave you vulnerable to malware infection. Always forward suspicious messages to a trusted friend or contact person.
8. Avoid Open Wi-Fi Networks
Open networks pose a risk because anyone with an internet connection can connect to them, even those who aren’t supposed to have access. Hackers use these connections to gain unauthorized access to other people’s confidential information, including passwords and credit card details.
By limiting the number of available public Wi-Fi hotspots, you reduce the likelihood that someone else will be able to take advantage of your computer. At the same time, you’re connected to that network.
9. Change Passwords Frequently
Keep track of all your accounts’ login credentials, especially those you share between work and home. Make sure to change them regularly and create unique passwords for every site that requires you to enter a password.
10. Know When Not to Panic
You shouldn’t panic if you receive an email or message that appears suspicious. There have been many instances where ransomware has been sent out via phishing schemes. If the message appears to come from a reputable company, then there’s no need to worry. Otherwise, it’s essential to verify the authenticity of the source. Take the time to read everything carefully before taking any action. Don’t forget to ask yourself: “Is what I’m about to do safely?”
11. Be Cautious With Social Media Apps
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter may seem harmless at first glance, but they can still lead to problems. For example, users are increasingly targeted by hackers using social media apps to send spam emails and scams. These posts can trick unsuspecting users into clicking links in fake news stories and opening attachments containing viruses. Be wary of any app that asks for permission to access your contacts or photos. You may want to avoid downloading new apps altogether. Instead, try searching for alternatives online.
We have discussed ways to prevent malware attacks, but we cannot guarantee that they will protect you 100%. Therefore, it’s essential to practice good security habits and update antivirus software frequently. Remember that not everyone knowing how to hack is looking to cause harm; instead, most cybercriminals seek easy gains to make money. So, if you spot something unusual, delete it immediately, report the problem to relevant authorities and keep calm.