What is Cyber Ransom Attack and Why Should You Care?

 Ransomware is, without a doubt, one of the biggest threats facing home computer users in years. Unlike many online attacks, it isn’t primarily out to steal your bank details or spy on you. Instead, it wants to scare you into handing over money to the attacker at the other end of the internet. How does it do this? By locking you out of your machine or folders unless a ransom is paid. Failure to do so could result in you being locked out forever. 

How does it work?

There are two main types of ransomware:

1.‘Lock screen’ ransomware is an older, less common type which locks a user’s screen, often flashing up messages spoofed to appear as if they’ve come from the police. The idea is to scare the victim into paying up.

2.Crypto-ransomware is by far the most common and destructive type. Once it finds its way onto your machine it will encrypt all or most of the data on your hard drive based on file type. This means you won’t be able to make sense of any of it. The attacker will demand a ransom usually, a few hundred dollars be paid in Bitcoin in return for the all-important decryption key, so you can access and read that data again.

Unfortunately, ransomware is everywhere, meaning there are multiple ways to get infected. It could arrive as a spam email, perhaps in a malicious link or attachment. Users can also get hit merely by visiting a legitimate website which has been previously infected, or a site containing malicious adverts. It means users must remain alert, have the right security tools in place and keep all software up-to-date to stay safe.

How common is ransomware?

That’s hard to say because many cases go unreported. In fact, the US released an alert in September urging victims to report attacks so it could “gain a more comprehensive view of the current threat and its impact on US victims.” That alert claimed just one type of ransomware infected an estimated 100,000 computers per day.

How can I protect myself?

The effects of ransomware can be devastating for home PC users. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to defend against. The key here is to take preventative measures to stop that initial infection.
The following will help to keep you safe:

  • Avoid opening unverified emails or clicking on their embedded links, which can start the ransomware installation process.

  • Back up your important files using the 3-2-1 rule: create three
    backup copies on two different media, with one of the backups
    in a separate location.

  • Regularly update software, programs, and applications, to
    ensure your apps are current, with the latest protections against new vulnerabilities.

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Respect is what we owe; love, what we give.

-Philip James Bailey


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