Security: Here is everything you need to know about the ransomware virus. Ransomware is one of the biggest cybersecurity problems on the internet and one of the biggest forms of cybercrime that organisations face today.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware), its principle is to encrypt files or the entire hard drive of a system using an unbreakable encryption key so that the user no longer has access to their data. A user infected with a ransomware virus is going to be surprised by a large textual image (full screen) with a message demanding a bank transfer within a limited time. In return for this ransom, the hacker will decrypt your files and in most cases by an online payment in Bitcoin.
With this article, you will understand how ransomware works, and most importantly how to protect yourself from it, in order to avoid suddenly losing your data.
How did ransomware evolve?
The early ransomware was a relatively simple construct, using basic cryptography that mostly just changed the names of files, making it relatively easy to overcome.
But it effectively created a new branch of computer crime, which slowly, but surely, grew in reach – and really took off in the internet age. Before they began using advanced cryptography to target corporate networks, hackers were targeting general internet users with basic ransomware.
One of the most successful variants was ‘police ransomware’, which tried to extort victims by claiming the PC had been encrypted by law enforcement. It locked the screen with a ransom note warning the user they’d committed illegal online activity, which could get them sent to jail.
However, if the victim paid a fine, the ‘police’ would let the infringement slide and restore access to the computer by handing over the decryption key. Of course, this wasn’t anything to do with law enforcement – it was criminals exploiting innocent people.
Your system has been infected by ransomware? Here is what you have to do to get rid of it.
If you are attacked by ransomware, write down the information displayed on the screen or take a photo. Report the incident to the police, they will not be able to help you recover your data, but it is still a reportable crime. However, here is what you absolutely must do:
- Disconnect the computer from the network
- Force shut down the computer then restart it in safe mode and check your data.
- Scan your computer using a bootable antivirus CD or USB
- Try to restore the system
- If you already have a recently created backup, format the computer and then recover your backup.
- Do not panic and above all, do not pay because even if you make the payment, there is no guarantee that you will recover your data and besides this is what happened to an American hospital. Moreover, if you pay, you encourage these cybercriminals in their crimes.
Know that it is either a person, a group of people or even an entire company generating millions of euros in turnover who is hiding behind ransomware. Like most companies, cybercriminals aim to generate their profits with minimal effort. They must show motivation and imagination to develop their actions and thus get rich quickly.
How can ransomware infect you?
Do you use a PC, MAC, or mobile device to surf the internet, send emails or make online purchases?
If yes, then you are a potential ransomware victim. There are mainly four targeting ways through which computers and mobile devices can be infected by this type of malware:
- links inserted in emails: This is the most common way to spread ransomware, the infection can occur after the victim clicks on a malicious link contained in an email or in the download of an attachment.
- Download site: In this type of attack, simply visit a malicious website created with the aim of coveting potential victims, as soon as the visitor clicks on an advertisement or a link, a malicious code is downloaded and immediately affects the user. victim’s device.
- Advertising: Some attackers deliver their ransomware via eye-catching advertisements.
- System or program vulnerability: Like any malware, ransomware can exploit security flaws in the operating system or software (java, adobe, etc.) installed on your computer or
The attackers exploit all possibilities to reach a huge number of people, which allows them to earn more money. Once installed, the ransomware will immediately freeze the user interface, and no manipulations can be performed, so the PC or mobile device will be blocked and a large banner will appear informing you that the computer has been “ locked” often by the FBI or some other agency.
The displayed message contains all the details on how to make the ransom payment by money transfer and thereby unlock your computer and recover your data.
Everything you need to know about the ransomware virus: Here is how to avoid them
A backup is the best solution…
If you apply a good backup policy, you will avoid the problems encountered with ransomware, simply regular backup is the best reliable, easy and inexpensive method of defence to recover an infected system.
The right backup policy must include your data and your system, there are different backup techniques and it is preferable to choose a method that is secure such as backup on an isolated external medium or an online storage service (Cloud).
Install a quality antivirus
The essential step for the prevention of ransomware or any other malware is to invest in quality security software. An antivirus offering real-time monitoring with a two-way firewall is the most practical way to thwart their attacks.
It is true that cybercriminals develop ransomware that is undetectable by antivirus. But following their appearance, antivirus vendors study and analyze their behaviour, in order to create and distribute programming code capable of detecting them. It is in the form of an update to be installed on all devices running the antivirus in question that you will benefit from their expertise in terms of system security aimed at protecting you as much as possible.
Keep your operating system and programs up to date
As I mentioned above, ransomware can infiltrate by exploiting a security flaw in the system. This is why you must be diligent and regular with the updates offered by Windows as well as all of your software suppliers. This will over time fix any loopholes or vulnerabilities that a hacker might use to reach you.
Use the administrator account as little as possible
An administrator account gives full privileges, this way ransomware or other malware can easily install itself so only use the administrator account if necessary, however using a guest account with limited privileges will minimize the damage.
Disable the “autoplay” option in Windows
This Windows feature allows media to be opened instantly (USB keys, CDs, etc.) with the appropriate program. But it’s still dangerous because malware can use this option to run automatically on your computer, so it’s best to disable it.
Disable Macros in Microsoft Office Suite
A macro is a series of executable instructions and actions, it is a function found in the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.). Criminals often use macros to spread malicious programs, they distribute them via email or social networks. In the majority of the cases, the macros are very little used, if it is your case Deactivate them!
Secure your computer before connecting to public wifi
As this type of virus (ransomware) spreads via networks, public wifi represents a real danger. If a user is connected to the same wifi access point as you and this one makes a bad manipulation on his computer or smartphone, it is enough for the latter to be infected by ransomware, so that automatically all the devices connected to this same network are attacked by the same virus including yours. In this situation, you cannot be safe from this kind of incident unless you use a VPN service. Otherwise, limiting your connections to free public wifi is strongly recommended.
Secure the web browser
The web browser is virtually the only channel through which all internet traffic passes. A misconfiguration or a flaw in the browser can be exploited to infect your computer with ransomware, which is why you must install a secure browser, in addition:
- Remove outdated and unnecessary extensions
- Configure your web browser’s security and privacy settings
- Use an ad blocker to avoid potentially malicious ads
- Never click on links received by email and especially when you do not know the sender.