What is Ransomware and How to Protect Yourself

The Definition of Ransomware

Ransomware is a malicious form of software used by cybercriminals to prey upon their victims, while demanding a ransom in return for their files and data. By holding their victim’s information at bay in exchange for large amounts of money, ransomware can be devastating to organizations, causing them to lose all their databases or applications. Not only is ransomware dangerous, but it can spread to other connected systems, making it critical that all companies and organizations instruct their workers on safe internet practices.

How Does Ransomware Work?

When a system has been hacked, ransomware goes through and encrypts files on a device, rendering them useless until the cybercriminals receive the payment, or “ransom,” they desire. It uses asymmetric encryption to create a pair of keys designed to encrypt and decrypt the specific files, offering a private key to the victim in return for payment. Even if the payment is given, ransomware usually doesn’t stop. Many times, the organizations hacked not only fail to receive their data back but lose thousands of dollars in the process. Not only can they lose money and their systems, but it can place a target on their heads for more cybercriminals if they suspect an easy target with a history of paying past ransoms.

Ransomware can be commonly seen in the form of “phishing” and email attachments, linking harmful downloads to unknowing recipients. Sometimes these emails can appear to be sent by people that the recipient knows, causing many to fall into the cybercriminals trap. Other times, passwords can be hacked and broken into. There are many different ways of how your data can end up in the wrong hands. Luckily, Kintechnology is here to help you learn the dangers and how to prevent them.

5 Ways to Prevent Ransomware

Here are a few ways to avoid ransomware from occurring down the line:

  1. Back up data – To prevent ransomware from becoming devastating to your organization or business, set up your data through an external hard drive or through the cloud. This way, you can still access your files after wiping your computer.
  2. Create secure passwords – Don’t repeat your passwords for multiple different sites and take care to use passwords that are long and not easily guessable. Another great way to prevent data breaches are to use multi-factor authentication log-ins, so that there are multiple barriers that could prevent your information from becoming encrypted.
  3. Take caution while opening emails – Don’t click on or download attachments sent to you from people that you don’t know. Even when they’re from clients or coworkers that you’re familiar with, double-check that it is indeed them, and that the information that they’re sending you is correct.
  4. Disconnect devices suspected of malware – If a computer or device is beginning to show suspicious behavior, isolate it immediately before it can spread to other connected devices. Shut off wireless connectivity and disconnect it from all networks.
  5. Stay Aware – Workplaces should teach their employees about cybersecurity and the dangers that can occur, so that all members of their team are familiar and confident in what to do when they suspect a data breach.

Don’t Pay the Ransom

The Federal Government Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency strongly discourages paying the ransom that cybercriminals may give you. There are many reasons as to why this can become extremely detrimental to you and the health of your systems. First, it does not guarantee the safety of your files – many times, people will pay the ransom only to lose thousands of dollars when given a faulty key, nothing in return, or higher requests of money down the line. Secondly, by giving these criminals the money they seek, you’re helping fund illegal activity – activity that will be used to generate more and more money from other people down the line. If less and less people fall for these cyber traps, they’ll begin to become less frequent. Lastly, as stated earlier in the article, ransomware can put businesses in danger for future attacks down the line, if criminals think they can make an easy profit off of them.

KinTechnology hopes that these tips were able to help. We pride ourselves on being a tech support service that you can trust, supplying our customers with excellent IT support and advice. For more questions about ransomware, malware, or any of the other services we provide, contact us today! We can be reached at (503) 263-8324 and can’t wait to be of service.