How Does Ransomware Work and What Are Methods to Prevent It
Ransomware can be better defined as digital extortion where some potential malware attacks the computer systems and make all files hostages until the person makes a set payment. Ransomware is widely popular among cybercriminals, mainly because of its ease of implementation and considerable returns on investment. Furthermore, the invention of the cryptocurrency world has made is much easier for the attackers to run after performing criminal activities.
Ransomware is an expensive affair for individuals, but this malware can be more harmful to businesses. Stats reveal that in the year 2017, the estimated damage to the businesses due to ransomware was somewhere around $5 billion in the United States. These damages primarily include the cost of losing data, ransom fee payments, fee payments made for recovery of lost data, loss of customers due to attacks and downtime during the attacks.
The only trusted method to get rid of ransomware is to prevent it from being installed on your system at the very first stage. However, in case if you have already become a victim to this attack, there are still few options to prevent losses. The article below provided detailed information about ransomware and how it can be prevented and removed. We have discussed a few practical techniques that can be applied instead of making payments for ransoms, that is actually a bad thing to do.
How does ransomware work?
In order to ensure safety from ransomware and to avoid the fear associated with it, the first most task you need to know is collect essential information about it.
Ransomware is better determined as a special form of malware that adds digital extortion. Although ransomware is defined as a category of malware in the cybercrime world, you can also find a variety of ransomware. It usually affects the system almost the same as other common forms of malware. For instance:
- You may end up downloading it from some malicious email link or attachment.
- You may load it into your system via some untrusted DVD or USB flash drive.
- You may have become a victim of ransomware while visiting some corrupted website online.
As soon as ransomware has attacked your system, it will immediately shut down some selected functions or may deny access to certain files. In case if you are using a Window-based computer, the chances are that it will disable your access to the start menu. With this, users cannot access the antivirus programs or cannot switch to the safe mode as well.
Most of the ransomware follow encryption technique to harm users. These malicious software tools simply encrypt certain files on the system, and then they cannot be accessed without entering a password. In order to know the password for the access, you may first need to make a hefty payment to the attacker.
It is possible to encrypt any file on the system with ransomware; however, most of these malware does not encrypt all system files at once. Their common targets are PDFs, image files, and the documents files that are created through Microsoft office. Ransomware simply tries to search for the files that are available on the common drive and encrypt most or all of them. Few recent versions of encrypting ransomware malware also encrypt network shared files as well; this situation is more complicated for business owners.
You cannot gain access back to the encrypted files until you make payment to the criminals or you clear the virus from the system. Some ransomware also forces the victims to make a huge payment within a set amount of time; otherwise, the files will get locked forever even if the virus is cleaned out of the hard drive.
Methods to prevent ransomware:
Well, we all know that it is quite difficult to decrypt the encrypted files. Reports reveal that most of the latest versions of ransomware make use of RSA or AES encryption techniques and they are hard to crack. To deal with the issue, the government at the United States also make use of AES encryption methods to protect some classified documents on the system. You can easily find plenty of details about how to create that type of encryption; it is widely popular because of its difficulty in cracking. Experts reveal that it is almost impossible to crack AES until and unless the person is expert in quantum computing.
The best and most trusted method to stay safe from ransomware attacks is to avoid its installation on your system. The idea is to ensure protection by working on weak areas and by controlling some behaviors that commonly allow ransomware to enter your devices. Below we have listed a few preventive measures that everyone needs to follow:
Ensure solid data backup
We cannot ignore the importance of data backup. It is the only best thing to do to stay safe from cyber attacks. When you have a proper data backup, there is no need to worry even if you are attacked by some ransomware.
Use the best antivirus
Do not limit yourself to virus and malware cleaners; rather, your software must ensure active monitoring and instant alerts for potential threats. It must include the safety on the web browsers as well so that users do not end up downloading suspicious file attachments.
Avoid clicking on suspicious links
Most of the ransomware spread via emails. If you have a bad habit of clicking on suspicious links contained in random emails, you are more likely to suffer ransomware attacks. It is important to avoid clicking any suspicious link on emails.
Use up to date software
Proper updates to Windows and other system applications can help you to prevent security vulnerabilities. Experts advise to update them in a timely manner to lower the risk of ransomware attacks.
Protect computers connected via network
There are many ransomware types that have the ability to scan computers connected on the network, and they can easily access the devices that allow remote access. It is better to disable the remote access when it is not required.