Ransomware: everything you need to know about it and how to prevent
Every one of you must have heard the word – Ransomware somewhere or the other. Be it in an article on your phone or in the newspaper headlines or you might have had a pop-up just now stating that your device has a ransomware infection. In today’s article, we will be telling you everything that you need to know about this latest cybercrime and will also be sharing tips on how to prevent it. In case you are already affected by it, don’t worry we will be telling you remedies for that too.
What is this new virus?
Ransomware which is also known as ransom malware is a new type of malware that blocks the personal files and documents on the victim’s computer or laptop or any other device. This is followed by ransom calls or messages in which the accused demands a huge amount of money in the form of bitcoins in return for the decryption key that is needed to unlock the encrypted files. The earliest trace of ransomware has been found in the late 1980s. Now there are many ways through which this ransomware can enter your computer or laptop.
The most common way is through mails. The criminals may often send you a common mail along with an attached image, file, document, etc. These attachments will have the ransomware implanted and the unsuspecting victim will download the file unknowingly. Upon downloading the file, the ransomware will spread all over the victim’s device and encrypt all of his or her files. The victim must be confused as to why they are not able to open their files and access their system like they used to. The answer to this question will come soon in the form of a ransom. This ransom is often asked in a manner that can be least traced in order to avoid getting caught. These criminals often use social engineering skills to lure the victims into opening the attachments.
Another common way through which these criminals implant ransomware in your computer or laptop or other devices is through advertising. This type of advertisement when used in implanting malware such as ransomware is known as malicious advertising. This type of ransomware often requires very little or no user interaction at all. Most of you might have seen various ads pop up while surfing through the internet. Upon clicking on these advertisements, the victim is directed to some server that the criminal has laid. These websites often put the ransomware on auto-download and thus the ransomware is downloaded into the victim’s computer.
Types of Ransomware
There are three major types of ransomware over the internet. We will be explaining each of them in detail here:
This type of ransomware is not as intimidating as it may seem. This type includes pop up messages. The victims in this type of ransomware may often show up in the form of pop up messages. These pop-up messages may claim that a deadly kind of malware has been found in your system and the only way to destroy it and free your computer from its lock is to pay the money that is demanded by the criminal. These messages are often spam messages and false as well. Your files may be completely safe and no malware may be present in your computer or laptop or any other device, but the criminal will continue to spam you with these pop-up advertisements. These advertisements may claim to be from a legit cybersecurity software program. What one must keep in mind is that no legit software company that offers cybersecurity will keep track of everyone unless they are their customers. One should always know that unless you don’t have that specific company’s software installed in your system, you would not receive their notification. If you have paid and brought the software from a company, you wouldn’t need to pay again to remove an infection.
2) Screen lockers
This is another type of ransomware that is commonly used by criminals these days to ensure that they get the full payment from the victims. This method also prevents the victims from going to the authorities due to the identity theft that the criminal is doing. In this type of malware, when the victim attempts to start his or her system, a message will appear on the lock screen stating that due to the detection of illegal activities being conducted on the system. This type of malware would often accompany the seal of an authority to make it look legitimate. One should always note that no authority or the police would lock your system and demand a payment in order to unlock your laptop or computer or any other system that is infected. If the police or any other authorities notice or plan to track you for any illegal activities, they would stick to the legal measures.
3) Encrypting Ransomware
This is the worst kind of ransomware. In this type, the criminals will steal all your files by encrypting them. What precedes this is that the criminals will contact the victim and demand a huge amount of money in return for the decryption code. This is a big trap as there is no guarantee that the criminals will give you the decryption key if you pay. Once they realize that you have fallen into their trap and are paying the money, they will keep asking for more and more money. The main reason why the encrypting ransomware is the most dangerous is that once your files have been stolen by these cybercriminals and encrypted, there is no way through which you can retrieve those files unless the criminal himself or herself gives them to you.
Besides getting into computers and laptops, ransomware has now started creeping in mobile devices as well. This kind of ransomware will often display a message on the screen and lock you out of your own device stating that illegal activities have been observed in this device. This message is followed by a statement that a certain amount has to be paid as a fine only after the successful payment of which will the phone is unlocked. One must make sure and always remember that no authority will tap your phone and ask you for a payment in order to unlock the encryption. These criminals will be waiting for you to fall into their trap and pay the demanded money. Once you do that, these criminals will start demanding more and this cycle will go on. The ransomware in mobiles is often transported through malicious apps that are installed by unsuspecting victims. All you need to do is to reboot your phone and delete the infected app in order to retrieve all your personal files. In case of further complications, we recommend you to seek help from the police and lodge a complaint against the criminal in order to avoid this from happening to other victims.
What to do if infected with ransomware?
The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is that you should know about when your computer or laptop gets infected with ransomware is that you must never make the payment that is demanded in return of the decryption code by these cyber criminals. Paying the ransom amount will not only help them earn in an illegal way but also encourage them to continue doing that with other people and you as well. Moreover, there is no guarantee that these cybercriminals will give you the decryption code as soon as you make the payment. They will stall the process and ask for more and more money thus pushing you into a debt trap. In the case of being infected by any kind of ransomware, you should always seek the help of the police and lodge a complaint against the criminal. This will not only help you in getting your files and documents safely but will also restrict the other cybercriminals from doing so to numerous innocent victims. You can also retrieve your files by downloading authentic decryptors on your system and then you can retrieve your documents. You must always be aware of the fact that not all ransomware has decryptors with them. It is also possible that these cybercriminals would just coax you into giving the money even though the ransomware that they have implanted in your system should have a decryption key or code.
Another way to deal with ransomware is to download cybersecurity software in your system that will help you in detecting the ransomware. This software may ask you to run a scan on your computer or laptop in case it detects ransomware and eliminates the root of the ransomware along with the infection. Even though it may cost you a few files that are already infected by the ransomware, such software helps you in keeping other files safe. The last way is to never download or install any app or file or document without carefully assessing what it is and where is it coming from.