what is ransomware? Protect against it

What is Ransomware? A Quick Lesson

We all know what a ransom is: when the bad guy demands money in exchange for your friend. Generally an inconvenient circumstance we try to avoid. So what is ransomware? Instead of your friend, the bad guy got a hold of some of your important files, and you have to pay money to get them back.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware works much like malware in that all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time…on the Internet. The way it works depends on what kind of ransomware you’re getting. There are two different kinds of ransomware you should be aware of.

Types of Ransomware

1. Encrypting ransomware

This involves algorithms blocking your access to important system files. Encryption is the most common form of ransomware. If you went clicking on the wrong thing or opened the wrong email, you are vulnerable to this sort of attack. The party involved can then get access to your entire library and lock you out of them. While trying to access them, a message will pop up on your screen, asking for hundreds of dollars (usually anywhere from $500 to $1000).

2. Locker ransomware

This one actually locks you out of your entire computer. After starting it up, instead of opening up your operating system, it will display a message that says if you don’t pay them, you’ll never gain access to your computer. In many cases, if you take your time to pay them, the amount will go up. Also, the form of currency is almost always in bitcoins.

What to do in the event of ransomware

Since ransomware has unbreakable encryption, decrypting it won’t be an option. It’ll most likely change the names of all your files, rearrange them, and give them different extensions just to be annoying. There are some things you can do when it happens to lessen the blow, and you may not get all your encrypted files wiped clean.

First of all, ransomware collect botnets; meaning every time it infects a computer, it’s building up its arsenal for the next attack. Admittedly, that sounds really cool, but it’s also very scary because ransomware is constantly evolving and most cases go unreported. So it’s important to purge the impacted files, but before you do that, make a copy of the infected files for later. Then, you should report the attack. By doing that, you are improving the safety for everyone else in the future.

If you have copies of all your files, restore your computer. Whether you use Windows or an Apple iOS, the function should work the same. Just go to wherever your settings are, restore and reinstall. This should wipe any malware from your computer. At this point, you can reinstall all of your files. You may also want to try booting your computer in safe mode and running your virus scanner.

If you’re absolutely desperate to get your files back and you’ve thought long and hard about it, you can pay the ransom. It isn’t the most highly recommended solution for obvious reasons, but sometimes you can’t risk losing something important. So, we’ll let you be the judge.

Tips to Avoiding Malware

As always, the best way to strike is preemptively. If you haven’t already, consider installing anti-ransomware software. It may only minimize the damage, considering the immense volume of ransomware out there right now (the number is growing daily), but it’s better than nothing.

Avoid clicking on mysterious links. That also includes opening sketchy emails. These two things are the top ways to get malware installed on your computer. Not only are you at risk for ransomware, but you’re opening your computer up for all kinds of trouble.

No matter what, you should always have backup files saved onto external drives. Save them so if or when your system fails or your computer gets infected, you can restore and reinstall and be (almost) good as new.

Secure Website Design

The Internet is a scary place full of dangerous malware. A proper design and infrastructure and go a long way, however. To design a secure site, you need the tools and the team. We have both here at Mvestor Media, so if you have a website design idea, contact us today, and we’ll get you set up!

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