The internet is full of dangers and its wickedness grows on a daily basis. There is a dangerous trend on the rise now which many everyday people are oblivious to – the ransomware a.k.a “cyber blackmail“.
Ransomware is a computer malware (virus designed to damage, destroy or alter information on a computer system) that encrypts data or restricts access to a computer or mobile device.
In other words, the hacker attacking the device takes control of the information on your laptop or phone. It’s like kidnapping your computer virtually.
There are two (2) main ways a ransomware (also called cryptovirus) can be used to “kidnap” your system:
- Encrypting the data on the victim’s system so that the files become useless to the victim
- Blocking access to the victim’s system in which case the victim’s login details (password, email, etc) are changed
After successfully causing a denial-of-service, the virus now displays a message asking for payment in order to be released.
HOW RANSOMWARE INFECTS SYSTEMS
There are two major ways ransomware infects a victim’s system:
- Via phishing emails
- Visiting websites that are infected with the ransomware
Usually victims get a message informing them that their system’s operating system (OS) is infected or is a pirated version or that the system contains illegal software and that they need to follow certain instructions to resolve the issue.
PROTECTION AGAINST RANSOMWARE (or any other virus)
To protect yourself against any form of infection, you need to:
- Be properly informed concerning the modus operandi of ransomware and other viruses as well
- Avoid visiting shady websites even if they promise to have enticing contents
- Utilize solid anti-malware packages like Norton, McAfee, Panda, etc that have web protection module
- Avoid using pirated versions of software; they leave many loopholes and those who sell them can attach viruses to them
- Make sure you upgrade every software and device in a timely manner. From your operating system (OS) down to the internet router in your home, make sure they are up to date
- Change your password and other relevant login details periodically
- Have a solid password policy. Avoid using dates of birth or anniversaries as these can be easily obtained on your social media profiles and even via social engineering techniques
- Finally, contact a professional when you think your system has been compromised
I hope you find these tips useful. Stay safe. 😎