Ransomware – Definition, Threats and Prevention

What exactly is Ransomware? Ransomware is a complex piece of software which has the ability to block the victim’s access to his files and documents until the victim pays a ransom amount to the hacker. There are two types of ransomware currently in circulation:

  1. Encrypting Ransomware – This uses advanced encryption algorithms to block a system’s files. The software demands payments to the hacker after which the hacker will provide a key to unlock and decrypt all the files. A few examples include CryptoWall, Locky, and CryptoLocker.
  2. Locker Ransomware – This software locks the victim out of the whole operating system so that it’s impossible for the victim to access the apps, files and even the desktop of the computer. The files are not encrypted but the victim still has to pay ransom to unlock the operating system.

Impact of Ransomware

Whether the attack is done on an individual level or a business level – the only difference is the amount of damage multiplies when dealing with business attacks. The most common storage device across the world is a hard drive. From the most important pieces of information to the least – hard drives can crash businesses, ruin projects and damage the integrity of individuals. Without backups, there is no amount of loss which can be estimated after a ransomware attack. Hackers usually demand unthinkable amounts and prefer to target those industries where information is vital. This includes the healthcare industry. Even though this act is inhumane and threatens thousands of lives, hospitals are forced to oblige to ransom requests in order to gain back the access to their information.

Prevention of Ransomware

The following are a few tips which can be used in order to prevent ransomware:

  • Refrain from opening all unverified emails. Also, if you do open up suspicious email, do not click on any link provided in the email, no matter how attractive it may seem.
  • Backup all your important files on a regular basis on at least three different platforms and store them in different locations and media devices.
  • Make sure to update all your apps regularly as the system frequently patches any loopholes and any discontinuity in the software which allows such threats to take over.
  • Never agree to pay the ransom amount as it can further elongate the process.
  • Buy as much time as possible with the hackers and make them feel as if you are going to pay.
  • Collect all the possible information about the ransomware attack and hand over the matter to a professional IT consultant – do not hand it over to local law enforcement as they will not be able to get your information back.
  • If you are dealing with massive losses, like in the case of businesses, hand over the ransomware case to the FBI.

If you run into problems with ransomware, call us at (847) 430-4900