Ransomware: Why is it so deadly and various ways to deal with it
Every day, we come across various pop-ups or emails or just random messages that appear on the screen of our computers or laptops or any other device while we may be surfing on the internet. These messages often showcase the message stating that your system has been hacked and all the files have been encrypted. Now, most of the times, this may just be a random ad that has nothing to do with your system but if you start experiencing problems such as not being able to open your files or even the whole computer or laptop or any other device that you usually use, then it is clear that your system has been infected by ransomware. Now before explaining the different types of ransomware and the multiple ways to prevent it from happening to your system, we must tell you what is ransomware.
What is this ransomware?
Ransomware is another strain or type of malware that the new age cybercriminals are using to extort money from poor innocent victims. This specific type of malware may often be attached in a mil in the form of an unsuspecting image, document, file, or pdf. The moment the victim downloads the attachment, the ransomware gets downloaded automatically and infects the whole system. This malware then proceeds to encrypt all the files on your computer or laptop. A ransom call, mail, or message will come along shortly stating that your system has been encrypted and a big fat amount will be demanded as ransom in exchange for the decryption key that will free your files. In many cases, these ransom demands are timed, which means that if the victim fails to pay before the given time limit, then all his or her files will be taken away by the cyber-criminal. This way, the criminal has more power over the victim as any person who does most of their work on their laptops and has their work and personal files stored on the system would not risk losing them.
Ransomware attacks are very common these days, be it innocent victims or major multinational companies, ransomware attacks them all. These cybercriminals plan all of the ransomware very strategically and plant them manually or make the victim do it unknowingly. They then demand money in exchange for the encrypted files. The money demanded in these cases is often in the form of bitcoin as this method Is not at all easy to trace, thus, saving them from the possibility of getting caught by the police or other authorities of a country. The authorities recommend you not giving the ransom as it just encourages the cybercriminals in two ways. Firstly, there is no guarantee that even after you pay the demanded money, you will get your files back. The cybercriminals will just ask for more and more money instead of returning the files. Secondly, this will motivate them to hack more people’s computers and laptops and demand money from them. This will lead to more innocent victims falling for this deadly malware and losing all their files as well.
The other way through which these criminals implant the malware onto your system is through advertising. This kind of advertising is known as malicious advertising or malvertising. Now, this type is also the most common method as it requires no interaction at all. All of us must have seen various advertisements that pop up when we click on-site links. Although most of them are harmless and are completely based on what we have searched for recently, some of them may be of the ransomware claiming to be the police or any other authority of your country. They will proceed by saying that some kind of illegal activity has been observed in your computer or laptop or any other device and therefore, they are locking the device. Upon clicking on these advertisements, the victim is redirected to another website from where ransomware is automatically downloaded into the system. The advertisement will also claim that in order to restore the system and decrypt your files, you must pay an amount. Now, one thing that our readers must note is that no police force or authority of any country would ask you for money in return for encrypted files. If you were to be really hosting any kind of illegal activity in your system, then they would stick to legal ways to do the needful and not ask for money by implanting ransomware.
What are the various types of Ransomware?
Just like all things come in various types such as ice cream flavors, humans, and much more, ransomware also comes in various types. This deadly malware comes in three different types as listed below:
This type of ransomware is considered the most difficult one as the risk in this ransomware includes you losing all of your files. The criminals may claim that they have the decryption code to your files but that may not be true in most cases. Many of the ransomware is curated in a way that they cannot be decrypted back. However, until they receive the money they demanded, the criminals will not tell you that. Even if you give them the money, the criminals may get motivated and stall the decryption key. They will ask you to transfer more and more money. Another thing possible in this type is that the cybercriminals may send you a random message that contains the decryption code. If there is even a slight error in entering the decryption code then it may encrypt your files more and put you at a greater risk of losing them. You should always consult an IT security specialist in such matters and not take it into your own hands.
Scareware refers to the pop-up messages that we get on our phones as discussed above. These pop-up messages will often accompany various sites and may continue to spam you till you get tired of it and click on the advertisement. Once you have clicked on the same, it will redirect you to the malware website and soon all your files would be encrypted. The one way to avoid this is to not click on the advertisement and ignore it completely. Another way that these pop-up ads may trouble you is by stating that they are from a cyber-security software company. They will claim that they have detected malware in your computer or laptop that is soon going to encrypt all your files. This message, like every other message, will end with a ransom note stating a huge amount of money in return for the decryption code or any other unrealistic promise.
Screen Locker Ransomware
This kind is somewhat scary as it just locks you out entirely from your computer or laptop or any other system. This type, yet again, will pretend to be a law authority and claim that they have observed illegal activities being conducted in your system due to which they have locked you out. One thing that all of them will have in common is that the money demanded will often be in the form of bitcoins. We recommend our reader to never trust these false messages and always go to the police and file a complaint if anything of this sort happens to you. This will not only save your money from getting into the hands of these cyber criminals but also will prevent them from luring other innocent victims into this.
How to fight this malicious ransomware?
Now that you have known about the various types of ransomware and their forms of attacks, we will be proceeding to the precautionary steps that you should take in order to fight this deadly virus that is taking over computers and laptops everywhere.
- Never trust the pop-up advertisements that come while you surf on the internet. Always ignore these messages. The police or any other law agency would never tap your system and demand money in return for the decryption code. In case you see any software company’s message, please note that all of these are pure lies. A software company would never keep a tab on your system unless you have purchased their software. If you have purchased their software, then they would never as for more money in order to remove the infection.
- Always purchase and download good cybersecurity software that will help you keep your system clean and would not let any types of virus or malware infect your computer or laptops.
- If infected by any kind of ransomware, do not make the payment or try to decrypt the code yourself. Making the payment will encourage the criminals to ask for more money thus leading them into a debt trap. Trying out the wrong decryption codes may make your files more encrypted and almost impossible for you to get away from it and retrieve your files safely.
- Do not give access or control of your system to any software or app without carefully reading their terms and conditions first.