In the past, random pop ups would accost an internet user with scary messages like “Warning! Your computer is infected!” while spelling out all the dangers that accompany the infection. This was just scary because most of the time you probably haven’t opened any malicious sites, so how? Well, that’s just advertisement turned up a notch. The warning messages are usually accompanied by call to actions to download or a buy a “cleaner” to help you get rid of the infection. The only thing you need to do to get rid of the infection is close the tab with the pop up, and it all goes away.
These days, the trick has gone one better and now bears a unique name known as ‘ransomware’. Like the previous malware, ransomware hijacks your computer too but it is different from malware. So, here’s a few things you should know about ransomware.
1. What is ransomeware?
Ransomware is best relatable with the concept of kidnap in real life. Ransomware is a sort of malware that hijacks your computer or part of your important documents and prevents you from doing anything till a ransom is paid. Call to action messages here can be friendly like: “We ran a check on your system and diagnosed that your computer has been hit with dangerous malware. Our tech guys are willing to fix this problem for you for a little fee”, or it can be aggressive like “pay up or lose your hard disk”.
2. How to stay safe
Backup is one of the most reliable ways to feel safe. With the click of a button and your sensitive data will be up in the air. Sadly, this is not enough to save you when a ransomware program hits your computer, thus you should look to make several copies and look at backup products with ransomware protection
3. What devices do I need to protect?
Computers running on windows and MAC are susceptible to ransomware. Windows is arguably the most popular operating system out there. So, ransomware developers target PCs and MAC most of the time. However, with phones and appliances becoming smart enough to run with operating systems, several variants of ransomware have been found to plague these devices too.
4. How does ransomware spread?
Ransomware programs are mostly spread via spam emails with attachments. Avoid clicking on unexpected .exe type files attached to unexpected emails or spam. You might also want to steer clear of unexpected attachments with .zip, .doc, or .pdf file types because they could be ransomware .exe files in disguise. Away from the emails, ransomware programs can be acquired by downloading and running unsafe programs that come in form of installers.
5. How can I surf the internet safely?
It is hard to restrain yourself from surfing the internet with caution, it doesn’t feel right. So, the piece of advice here is to use the incognito mode – a method of surfing the web via a web browser which allows a user to hide their activities from other users on a shared or personal computer by automatically deleting all cookies and history at the end of each session. In dealing with spam emails with potential dangerous attachments, utilize the email filter to block these out and delete straight away.
One can’t be too safe in preventing malware, so always keep your antivirus or malware fighter software updated and ready to work. You might just want to pay up and get over the episode quickly when hit by a ransomware program for the first time, to avoid possible loss of valuable files. It is a risk you must take amid the possibility of being shammed, but don’t let your system get hit by a ransomware program twice. Seek out preventive measures to deal with ransomware programs.