If you haven’t yet had an encounter with ransomware, be grateful. Ranging from mildly inconvenient to seriously disabling, ransomware is a kind of malware that blocks access to your files until you pay a ransom. It first hit the US in 2013 and has become a widespread problem in a short span of time.
Types of Ransomware
Education is the first step to preventing ransomware attacks. There are several varieties of ransomware:
Despite the name, scareware is the least serious variety. Scareware often takes the form of fake security or tech support pop ups with messages like “malware has been discovered on your computer!” and a prompt to pay for its removal. While these messages are annoying, your files are still safe. Generally, security software will clear this kind of ransomware from your computer.
As the name indicates, lock-screen ransomware prevents computer access altogether. When you start your computer, a full screen window will appear with the message that you’re locked out. Screen lockers often claim to come from a government agency in response to “illegal activity” on your computer. Like other ransomware, the message will instruct you to pay a fee for access to your computer and provide directions on how to pay up.
This isn’t the way any real government agency would pursue a criminal. If you encounter lock-screen ransomware, you may be able to do a full system restore to unfreeze your computer or run a security scan from a USB or CD drive to clear out the malware.
Of all ransomware, the encrypting variety is the worst. In this scenario, your files are stolen and encrypted, and the criminals at work won’t give them back without payment. There is no solution for encrypting ransomware; once your files are gone, there’s no way to get them back.
Minimize Ransomware Risk
- Backup important files. The best way to ensure ransomware doesn’t destroy your files is to backup regularly to a separate location, such as an external hard drive. Backing up may be a tedious process, but you’ll never be sorry you did it.
- Be vigilant about emails. Don’t open emails from unknown or suspicious senders. If an email appears to come from your bank but you questions about its authenticity, call your bank to verify before you click any links or download any files. Spammers can create emails that appear to come from known contacts, so be cautious even when a message seems to come from a friend.
- Employ antivirus software and firewalls to fend off known ransomware. While there will always be newer malware that antivirus software can’t yet detect, preventing the older varieties is still a good idea.
- Update software regularly. Ransomware looks for weaknesses in your current system software. Regular updates will keep software less vulnerable to attacks.
Unfortunately, once ransomware encrypts your files, there are few ways to get them back. The best tactics are to back up regularly, learn how to avoid ransomware, and use security measures to prevent the problem before it starts.
Contact Spyder Web Communications today to learn more about how to minimize the risk of ransomware