Everything you need to know about Ransomware

New cyber threats are created daily, and with each additional threat, the fallout becomes more difficult to recover from and more expensive to clean up.  But what if you were infected with a sophisticated cyber threat that promises a quick and fairly inexpensive recovery if you simply follow the request of the hacker?

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?  Seems a great deal more appealing than a high-profile data breach, a permanently corrupt server, or mass identity theft.

And this is exactly why Ransomware has become so wildly successful.

What is Ransomware?

Introduced to the public in 2013, Ransomware is a sophisticated form of malicious software that can infiltrate your connected devices to hold your data for ransom.  Typically, the purpose of Ransomware is not to corrupt your files or damage your computer; the true intent is to make a quick buck at your expense.

What happens when you’re infected with Ransomware?

If your device is infected with Ransomware, then all the data on your device will be encrypted with a unique private key that only the hacker has access to.  A message will display on the screen that says your device has been infected and that the only way you’ll regain access to your data is if you pay the listed fine.  It will also assert that if you attempt to remove the malware, your data will automatically be destroyed.

Sometimes, however, the message will look different.  Hackers may opt to go with a message that appears to come from the FBI or another government agency.  If this is the case, then you will be threatened with prosecution unless you agree to pay the requested fine.

These fines are usually $600 or less, and some fines have even been as small as $10.  The smaller extortion fees have proven to be very effective for hackers because victims believe it’s easier to pay up than to contact an IT company or to potentially lose their data.

How can you protect yourself from Ransomware?

Online security firms struggle to remove Ransomware from infected devices because there is the looming possibility that the malware will automatically remove, delete, or corrupt all of your data.  For this reason, it’s important that you prevent Ransomware from infiltrating your devices altogether, or you eliminate the threat of data loss.  Here are three ways you can do this:

  1. Keep your device updated: Ransomware likes to exploit security flaws. These flaws can exist because of a failure to update your operating system, browser, or software.  Make sure that all of these facets are updated on a regular basis so you can eliminate unnecessary security flaws.
  2. Use reliable, reputable security solutions: You won’t have the ability to effectively avoid Ransomware if you don’t have a good security solution. Keep every device you own protected with a security suite at all times.
  3. Back up your data: If your data is backed up, then the threat of Ransomware is basically But you have to make sure that your data is backed up both online and offline.  In some cases, advanced Ransomware can access your data even if it’s in the cloud.

Ransomware is a tricky cyber threat but a serious problem.  If you think you’ve been infected with a form of Ransomware, you should contact an IT company, as well as the authorities.