If some of your files are no longer accessible because they have been locked, then you might have just become a victim of Ransomware. But ransomware isn’t just simply locking files and asking for money to provide unlock key, it is much more than that.
So What Is Ransomware Really?
In popular internet culture, ransomware comes in two different forms.
Locker Ransomware – the kind of ransomware which locks the user out of the operating system they are using. This makes it impossible for the user to access his/her desktop or use any applications or files. In this case, the files are not encrypted, but the hacker can still ask for a ransom if you want your system unlocked.
Encryption ransomware – this kind of ransomware comes with advanced encryption algorithms which basically block all your system files and then demands ransom in return for a key to unlock all the files that have been locked.
Ransomware is a malware in nature, so it will always stay hidden from an anti-virus. But there are some key attributes that make it different from the rest of malware. These are:
- Ransomware is capable of encrypting any kind of file. These include music files, pictures, videos, word documents, presentations and more.
- Ransomware’s encryption is impossible to break. In simple words, if your files get locked, you won’t be getting them back until you pay the ransom.
- Ransomware also has the power to change your file names. This technique is often used by hackers to hide away important data in the masses of other files on your system. Sometimes it is also used to confuse the victim into believing that important data has been locked.
- It almost always sends a message to you or a picture that tells you your files have been encrypted and you won’t be able to unlock them unless you pay the demanded ransom.
- Ransomware can also change the extensions of your file. For example, .doc can be changed to .pdf.
- It will mostly demand ransom in the form of bitcoins. This form of currency cannot be tracked by cyber security professionals or law enforcement agencies so it has become the number one choice of currency for cyber criminals.
- Ransomware is time locked. This means that if you do not pay the ransom on time, your data can be destroyed forever. This actually adds a lot of psychological strain on the victim.
- Ransomware cannot be detected by anti-virus because it uses complex evasion techniques that anti-viruses are incapable of detecting.
- The malware can spread to other systems through a local network to lock more files and increase ransom.
- Hackers can turn the infected system into a botnet which they can use in the future for more attacks
- Ransomware can sometimes change the language of the image or message it sends to local language which increases the chances of the ransom being paid.
- Ransomware can also extract important data such as passwords, usernames, email addresses and credit card numbers from the system it infects.
Ransomware is evolving every day which means that the things it is able to do are increasing day by day, making it even more threatening.
Who are the top targets of ransomware?
- If you think ransomware usually targets businesses and organizations, you are wrong. Hackers are targeting almost anyone they can using ransomware these days and home users are on the top of their list.
This is for some very alarming reasons:
- Home users usually don’t keep a backup of the data. This means if data is important to them and it has been locked, without a backup, they are never going to get these files back. So they are easily led into paying the ransom.
- A home user is also unaware of how to properly protect their systems from malware. This makes them an easy target for the hackers to send out ransomware.
- Home users also do not keep their systems up to date. A lot of people tend to ignore security updates which make their systems vulnerable to attacks from ransomware.
- Home users are also only dependent on anti-viruses and are not aware that ransomware is a malware and cannot be detected by anti-virus.
- But this doesn’t mean businesses are often ignored. They are also targeted because:
- Businesses have the kind of funds ransomware attackers are mostly attracted to.
- Hackers are clever and know that if they acquire data from a business, the business will have to pay no matter what.
- Ransomware is also popularly used against businesses because they employ a lot of computers and ransomware can easily spread and lock more systems to increase the amount of ransom.
Whether you are a business or a home user, you should know that the threat of ransomware is real. The only real way to help you protect from ransomware is to prevent the attack in the first place by upping your cyber security.
FREE LIST OF RANSOMWARE REMOVAL TOOLS & SOFTWARE
First OFF! Always have a backup! If you do not you are just asking for trouble! With a backup you can wipe out your entire computer and reinstall to be safe, but still have your files…. so check out Carbonite – Click Here >>> simple, safe and affordable.
- Malwarebytes: Always been a happy user and now they have live ransomware protection. – Learn More >>
- Trojan Remover From SimplySup: Another I have personally used for years. – Learn More >>
- RansomFree: Free and seems to work well.. have installed it Learn More >>>
Loads of info…. there is a lot out there MajorGeeks has a lot of info: http://www.majorgeeks.com/mg/sortdate/ransomware_removal.html and so does techradar: http://www.techradar.com/news/the-best-free-anti-ransomware-tools
Again hoping you are trying to prevent this and not looking after the fact! Remember what I mentioned above… BACKUPS! You better have them!
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