Ransomware has been a growing threat to computers over the last couple of years. Kaspersky claims that a Ransomware infection can occur in 10 seconds. WannaCry ransomware infected more than 150 countries in 2017. The estimated damage it caused is over 1 BILLION US DOLLARS. It made many people cry Ransomware.
How does ransomware work? Let’s take just a few moments to look at how this ransomware infects your computer and what it does afterward.
Stage 1: Infection
Ransomware attempts to infect your computer by two methods. Infected Email Attachments are the first. Hackers can use a technique known as phishing to gain information about you via your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Then they send you an email that looks like it was sent by a friend or colleague. The infected attachment would have a name that is similar to what you might receive from them. Hackers can make fake emails seem more plausible by studying you and your habits. This will increase the likelihood that you will click the infected attachment.
Ransomware can also infect your computer through infected or compromised web pages. You may receive an email, text message, or LinkedIn or Facebook post containing a link. This message or post looks legitimate and encourages you to click it. The ransomware then scans your computer to find vulnerabilities. Ransomware will immediately use it to infect your computer if it finds one.
Stage 2: The destruction is unleashed
Ransomware infects your computer by scanning your computer and any external media looking for files. Ransomware could also infect your files such as photos, music, and MS Office files. Ransomware locks the files with its own secret key once they are located, whether on the local network or locally. The files will be inaccessible to you once they have been encrypted. Their contents are rearranged so that your computer can’t read them and won’t allow you to open them. You should not worry about system files that are part of the operating system. This would make your computer unusable and prevent you from paying ransomware.
Stage 3: Ransom Demand
After the ransomware has done its dirty work and encrypted every file in your computer, it sends you a ransom note. The ransom letter informs you that your files have been encrypted. To decrypt them or restore them to their original order and make them available again, you will need to pay a ransom. The simple transfer of money could be easily tracked by authorities, and hackers would be caught quickly. Hackers devised a more sinister scheme to steal BitCoin, a cryptocurrency that is not easily traceable by authorities. This currency can be used online for financial transactions and it is legal. Hackers took to Bitcoin because of its anonymity. BitCoin transactions are virtually impossible to trace, making it difficult for hackers to track and therefore untraceable for us. Hackers “politely point you” to legitimate websites where you can buy BitCoin with your cash, since most people don’t have BitCoin. They will then tell you where you can pay for your BitCoins. Hackers will send you a key, or make ransomware encryption available to you, in return for your files being returned. It can be as high as $679 in BitCoins. Even worse news is that you cannot be sure you will receive your files back after paying. Many users have reported not receiving anything in return for paying. It sounds gruesome, doesn’t?
What can you do? What can you do to stop this nightmare from happening?
To reduce the chance of infection, there are several things that you can do:
Make sure your operating system is up-to-date
Ransomware is a common threat that exploits vulnerabilities in operating systems like Windows 7 and 8. You can fix these vulnerabilities by updating your operating system frequently. This will ensure that ransomware doesn’t try to infect your computer. You can set Windows to automatically update and you only need to restart your computer when updates are applied.
Make sure you choose the right antimalware solution and install it correctly
Your computer’s protection software is crucial in protecting it from malicious software (malware), including ransomware. It can detect malicious behavior, and stop it from causing serious harm. It is essential to keep your computer safe and clean by using the most current antimalware software.
Backup is the last frontier in protection
It may surprise you to learn that proactive prevention is the best defense against ransomware. You can restore your computer to its original state, rather than trying to recover it after it is infected. This has proven to be increasingly difficult. Keep backups of all your computer’s data on protected media. Instead of paying hackers to decrypt your files and hoping that they do so, restore your computer from your previous backup. Although there are many backup options available that can help you back up your computer, the most popular is Acronis. It can create a complete backup of your computer, and then restore it to its previous state when disaster strikes.
We would love to hear from you in the comment section. Good luck!
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