Beware of ransomware, or so goes the warning cries of infected devices. Ransomware, like any other malware, infects a device, however, they take the device hostage and demand a ransom. Other malware would directly steal your data, but ransomware operators claim to give your entire data back if the ransom is paid on time.
This article will walk you through what ransomware is and how it affects your device. Read on below to find out ways of protecting yourself from ransomware.
Also read: Ransomware vs Malware vs Spyware
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a specific type of malware that encrypts all files on your device, locks it and sets a timer which triggers the deletion of all encrypted data. It then demands a ransom payment on a given cryptocurrency wallet link to release the data.
Due to the encryption, you are unable to access your files on the system, especially if the backup gets encrypted as well. Ransomware can affect all kinds of devices, including Windows, Linux, iOS, macOS or Android. If you cannot pay the ransom, all of your files will get lost forever.
How does ransomware work?
We show a working demonstration of the WannaCry ransomware on a Windows 10 PC running inside a virtual machine. The WannaCry ransomware affected 150 countries and as a crypto-ransomware, it asks for payment in the form of cryptocurrency. It was developed by the National Security Agency in the United States and targets old Microsoft systems. However, it was stolen and cost billions of dollars worth of damages.
Also read: 9 common types of Malware explained
Protection from ransomware
Ransomware is a menacing malware that gives no guarantee of decrypting your files once the ransom has been paid. Thus, it goes to show the significance of taking precautions and protecting oneself from this kind of malware.
In the case of the WannaCry ransomware, if you’ve got the latest Windows version and a good antivirus, you’re safe. However, that cannot be said for the majority of currently active ransomware families out there.
The following steps can be kept in mind:
- When the ransomware is in your system, there is no way out except for formatting your hard drive or SSD.
- The ransomware WannaCry only works on old Windows systems, hence keep all of your devices updated.
- Be aware of and avoid clicking on any suspicious phishing links or email attachments and messages with images attached.
- Install a good anti-virus and begin using VPN or Tor browser.
- Back up all of your data in a separate drive which is not present on your device. For example, consider using an external hard disk to store all of your essential files.