Ransomware has been a disease infecting personal computers for several years now, but the issue continues to escalate as cybercriminals find new ways to propagate it and corporate users remain unaware or uneducated about how companies should handle ransomware attacks. Ransomware is primarily delivered through phishing emails or malicious links often hidden in attachments or advertisements. Once installed, ransomware will make itself known on your computer by locking you out of everything and displaying some sort of message that you need to pay money or else you won’t be able to access your own data again. That’s when the ransom demand appears – usually in the form of a text file with instructions on how you can get your files back by transferring money to an account. If you don’t pay, then your locked files will remain inaccessible forever.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that tries to extort money from you by locking you out of your computer or your data and demanding you pay a ransom in order to regain access. Ransomware is often distributed through spam emails that include links or attachments containing malicious software. Once installed, the software will scan your computer for files that you cannot view or edit without special software or passwords. If it finds such files, it will encrypt them with an algorithm that the program’s creator has set up. This algorithm is like a pair of decryption keys that the malware creator holds and gives you the option to buy. Once the ransomware has encrypted your files, it may display a message asking for money — often to be paid in Bitcoin — and threatening to delete your files if you don’t pay. The message also often provides victims with a phone number or email address to contact if they want help paying the ransom.
Preventing ransomware attacks
While some computer security companies have reported a decrease in the number of ransomware attacks, the same companies have reported that the number of people who have fallen victim to ransomware has increased. The biggest reason for the jump in the number of ransomware attacks is that many people have failed to take the proper precautions to protect themselves from malicious software. These precautions include keeping your computer software and operating system updated, creating a backup of your important files, and downloading and installing anti-malware software. Keeping your computer software and operating system updated. Keeping your computer software and operating system updated helps prevent hackers from taking advantage of any vulnerabilities in your operating system or installed software that could leave your computer open for attack. Creating a backup of your important files. Creating a backup of your important files is a key step in preventing any data loss that could result from a ransomware attack. If you fall victim to ransomware and it encrypts your data, you can simply restore the data you backed up before the attack occurred. Downloading and installing anti-malware software. Downloading and installing anti-malware software is essential to keeping your computer free of malicious software and preventing ransomware attacks. Anti-malware software scans your computer for all types of malicious software, including ransomware.
Backup and restore your data
While anti-malware software is important in protecting your computer, it is also crucial to have a backup of all your important files. If a ransomware attack does occur and your computer is infected, all you need to do is restore your backup files, and you will once again have access to all of your data. You can do this with an external hard drive or online cloud storage. Though it may sound obvious, having a backup of all your important files is essential in preventing data loss and ransomware attacks. If your computer is infected by a ransomware attack and it encrypts your files, you simply need to restore the data you backed up before the attack occurred.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is a great tool for securing your computer and protecting yourself from ransomware attacks. A VPN allows you to connect to a remote server that acts as an intermediary between you and the internet. This intermediary server, which is often run by a company like ExpressVPN or NordVPN, then connects you to the internet and encrypts all of your data. This helps protect you from hackers and prevents them from accessing your computer. If you regularly use public WiFi, a VPN is a must. Public WiFi hotspots are often unsecured, which means that hackers can access the information sent to and from your computer. A VPN helps to encrypt your data, protecting it from hackers. VPNs can also help you unblock websites and apps from around the world by giving you an IP address from a different location.
Don’t click on strange emails or links
Another key step in preventing ransomware attacks is to not click on strange emails or links that you come across. These emails and links may contain malicious software that will exploit a vulnerability in your computer and allow a hacker to gain access to your system. If you receive an email from your bank or a company that you regularly do business with, it is unlikely that they will send you an email containing a malicious link. However, if you receive an email from a company you’ve never done business with or if you get a message that seems suspicious, don’t click on the link. Instead, call the company to see if they actually sent the email. If they didn’t, you’ve just avoided a ransomware attack.
Install anti-malware software
Finally, installing anti-malware software is another important step in protecting your computer from ransomware attacks. Anti-malware software scans your computer for malicious software, including ransomware. If your computer is infected with malicious software, such as ransomware, anti-malware software can be used to remove the malicious software from your computer. Anti-malware software is crucial in preventing ransomware attacks. When hackers exploit a vulnerability in your computer and install malicious software, such as ransomware, anti-malware software can be used to remove the malicious software from your computer. Anti-malware software can also help you prevent future attacks by blocking suspicious websites, email links, and programs from accessing your computer. Doing so helps protect you from malware, including ransomware, that may try to gain access to your computer.