Ransomware is malicious software that is used by cybercriminals to launch data kidnapping and lock screen attacks. If a computer is impacted with ransomware, it will render the files on your computer encrypted and it will prompt you to pay a ransom when you try to open any of those files.
How is Ransomware spread?
Email: Cybercriminals are notorious for including malicious attachments and links in e-mails that appear to come from friends, reputed organisations, or other trusted sources. Some malicious e-mails can even infect your computer from the e-mail client’s preview pane, without you opening or downloading an attachment or a link.
Websites: Ransomware can be inadvertently/unintentionally downloaded from websites, or automatically downloaded while visiting some websites.
Outdated software: Ransomware crawls the Internet, looking for vulnerabilities of outdated software to spread its influence over computer systems.
Local Area Networks (LANs): A LAN is a group of locally connected computers that share information over a private network. If one computer becomes infected with malware, all other computers in the LAN may get infected as well.
Instant Messaging, Peer to Peer and File-sharing systems: If you have processes where you need to use/share online services of your client or vendor, and if their systems or computers are infected with ransomware then it can spread in your computer also.
Social networks: Ransomware authors take advantage of many popular social networks, infecting the massive user-data networks with worms. If a social website account is infected with a worm and if anyone visits the person’s profile page then their systems too can get infected with the worm.
Pop-ups: Some of the most sophisticated malicious software spread through well-disguised screen pop-ups that look like genuine alerts or messages.
Computer storage media: Malicious softwares can easily spread if you share computer storage media with others, such as USB drives, DVDs, and CDs.
Safety tips for Ransomware
Don’t act on spam e-mail:
By clicking links or opening suspicious attachments, you could be inviting ransomware, or other malware, onto your computer. Just delete spam immediately without opening it.
Avoid suspicious sites
Do not visit suspicious sites. If you suspect that a website is not what it seems to be, leave the site immediately. Do not follow any of the instructions on it.
Keep security software up to date
Always keep your security software (antivirus) updated. If your security software is not updated then it may not be able to recognise new threats entering your computers.
Back-up your files often
As in most cases when ransomware hits, it is difficult to remove. Even if you do successfully remove the malware, your files may still remain inaccessible.
Keep your Operating System updated
Malware like this finds ‘vulnerabilities’ or weak spots in your system, if it hasn’t been updated in a while.
Don’t Use Open Wi-Fi
When you are at the local coffee shop, library, and especially the airport, don’t use the “free” open (non-password, non-encrypted) Wi-Fi.
Do not open attachments
Don’t open attachments in suspicious and unsolicited e-mails, even if they come from people in your contact list, and never click on a URL contained in such an e-mail, even if the link seems to be general or non-threatening.