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What Is And How Can We Avoid Ransomware?

Users looking at computer locked by ransomware

Let’s take a deeper look at what is and how can we avoid ransomware.

Did you know that ransomware is a kind of malware that can encrypt your files that you can no longer access? You need to then pay a ransom as demanded by the perpetrators to have your files decrypted and restored back to the original version so that you can access them normally.

To get the decryption key, you have to follow their instructions for paying the ransom amount to them, which is usually in the form of Bitcoins and cryptocurrency transactions. This is one of the most dangerous forms of cybercrime as the ransom amount charged is usually heavy.

In 2018, SamSam (a ransomware software) collected a $1 million ransom amount. Easy targets for cybercriminals are educational institutes, financial organizations, law firms, etc.

How does ransomware work?

The easiest way taken by cybercriminals to attack a victim via ransomware is to subject them to a phishing campaign. Once the victim opens an attachment or downloads files from a phishing email, the malware gets installed on their system and as a result, encrypts the files on the victim’s computer. At this time, it’s really difficult to avoid ransomware.

Some of these ransomware programs come with built-in social engineering tools, that can even trick users to give administrative access to these tools. Thus, in this way these tools can prevent users from accessing their own files until a ransom is paid to them.

Other forms of ransomware programs are capable of infecting computers by exploiting the security gaps in the system. 

Usually, such type of malware encrypt’s user files that can not be decrypted without the decryption key. In other scenarios, the attacker might pretend like a law enforcement agency and charge ransom in the guise of charging fines for detecting pirated content or some other illegal content on the victim’s system. There may also be scenarios, where attackers ask for a ransom in exchange for not leaking sensitive information, files, and photos online.

How to prevent ransomware attacks?

It’s not very difficult to avoid ransomware, however, there are a few rules we need to consider in order to be safe online.

  • Always ensure to install the system updates to keep the OS patched and to minimize security loopholes.
  • Having antivirus software that can detect malicious programs and prevent malware downloads is a must to safeguard yourself against ransomware attacks.
  • Only install software and provide admin access to those programs which are from trusted sources.
  • Backup your files regularly to prevent losing your important files even under a malware attack.
  • Have a whitelisting software to prevent unauthorized apps from auto-installing and running in the system.
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