Let me paint a simple picture of what a ransomware attack does to you: you wake up your computer one inauspicious day hoping to do a bit of work. Instead of booting to your desk top, a strange boldly written message is splattered across your screen. It looks like the image below.
The long and short of it is that you cannot access any of the files in your computer. You computer has being hijacked. To get access to your files again, you have to pay money to whoever took control of your computer. Welcome to the world of ransomware attack. The business of ransomware attack is so profitable and the risk so small that knowledgeable hackers now consider stealing credit card numbers and bank account details unfashionable.
The Ransomware Attack Epidemic
The scale of the attacks are now so much it is now an Epidemic, akin to a rampaging new disease with no known cure. One of the most famous cases is the attack on a Medical Center in Los Angeles. The hackers demanded for a whooping $3.1 million in Bitcoin. Attackers target any institution with money to pay. Individuals too are not left out of these attacks. The simple rule of thumb is, if the owner of the PC has money to pay, they a target. The lists of targets so far include, schools, government offices, newspaper houses and even churches. Nothing or nobody is immune to ransomware attack.
How Ransomware Attack is Executed
Understanding how ransomware attack works could be the starting point in preventing it. On the other hand, it could just open your eyes to how virtually impossible it is to stop an attack. One way the hackers take control of your system is through emails and messages. Like a Trojan Horse, opening the mail opens to door to virus to enter, infect and lock your system.
Another way is clicking a strange link while browsing a dodgy website. Well, being in a dodgy website is asking for trouble in the first place. But what if you are in reputable website. It can happen too if you click on links that promised you heaven. Even clicking on some ads are a sure way of letting loose these viruses on your system. So maybe there is a sense to the ads blocker in Opera mini. And the recent feature on Google Chrome that alerts users of fake links and ads on websites makes a lot of sense.
After the virus infects your system it is just a matter of time before it becomes a full blown ransomware attack
Ways to Prevent Ransomware Attack.
1.Back up your system files and folders: this is the best way to prevent ransomware attack. Once you back up your files away from your primary system, you have practically eliminated the threat. Fact is, for the virus to work, you have to be online. But of course, you have to scan the files before backing them up.
The best back up is offline of course. But with many tech firms offering cloud storage services, almost everybody now backs up their files in the cloud. Hackers are of course aware of these. They would try to gain access to this files through your computer. So you better learn to keep your passwords offline. Again, it’s best to opt for cloud services with good encryption.
2. Don’t click suspicious emails or Links: I guess this is rather obvious. Click on only links you are sure of. And open emails from sources you know. This is easier said than done though. Hackers routinely bombard our inbox with spam messages. Some of them might just end up outside our spam box and look like genuine messages. Eternal Vigilance can not be overstated here.
As for links that are embedded with malicious codes, that is a little difficult to avoid. Because some links in reputable websites look like the real thing. However, these links are just malwares that can lead to ransomware attacks. Falling victim to this method is easy. But if your files are already backed up, you can avoid paying a dime to some stranger.
3. Update constantly: many people just don’t like applying new updates send to them by softwares and apps on their systems. Updates most times contain new security patches to help secure your system against viruses and malwares. But some updates are also delivered by hackers, so one must be careful. Verifying these new updates before applying them is a good starting point.
Following these three tips can generally protect you against ransomware attack. However, these people are constantly coming up with new means of hacking into our systems. Which means security agencies are always a step behind them.
phot credit: bbc.co.uk; gfi.com