Ransomware: Why are They Dangerous, and How Do You Stay Protected?
Gone are the days when virus attacks meant mere corruption of user files, installation of unwanted software and toolbars, system performance degradation, etc. Today, the IT experts, SMEs, and even the top corporates around the world stare into an advanced family of malware which has arguably given rise to a cyber-attack epidemic across the globe. This notorious malware which is growing more powerful by the day is Ransomware.
What is a Ransomware?
Ransomware is a powerful malware which encrypts the information on your system and demands a ransom in exchange for access to your files. The level of encryption it deploys is nearly impossible to break. Hence, users are left with only two options:
- They can either wipe the hard drive completely or restore from a backup file
- If there is no backup and the files hold a lot of value, then they can actually pay the ransom
How is Ransomware different from other Malware?
In many ways, ransomware is just like any standard malware which sneaks into your computer through methods like:
- Malicious websites
- Software installation from untrusted sources (email links, third-party websites, etc.)
- Bundled software
- Unsecured public networks or public hotspots
Compared to the ordinary malware programs which can be identified by a premium antivirus program instantly, a malware is highly discreet and engineered to bypass your computer’s security measures. What’s even scarier is that it can stay dormant for an indefinite amount of time waiting for a suitable time to launch an attack. It can also open a backdoor for the cybercriminal so that they can access your computer remotely and manipulate the settings and data to their advantage.
The following are a few statistics (source: Barkly) collected during 2016-2017 that can shed light on the seriousness of the ransomware attacks:
- A company is hit with ransomware every 40 seconds.
- 6 in 10 malware payloads were ransomware in Q1 2017.
- There were 4.3 times new ransomware variants in Q1 2017 than in Q1 2016.
- The average ransom demand has risen to $1,077.
- 1 in 5 businesses that paid the ransom and never got their files back.
How to Prevent a Ransomware Attack?
The following are some helpful tips on the prevention of a ransomware attack:
- Install a good antivirus software : Install a good antivirus program and keep updating the antivirus software that will help you to protect your laptop or PC against viruses and malware.
- Be careful when checking emails : Since ransomware are often installed via malicious email links and attachments, you must be careful when checking your emails. If you receive an email from someone you don’t recognize, then it’s best to avoid it altogether. It is also a good idea to learn about phishing attacks which are the most common form of email-based cyberattacks.
- Stay clear of unethical websites : Websites that host torrents files, pirated software, etc. are often the breeding grounds for dangerous viruses including ransomware. Thus, always install the software you need from trusted websites only.
- Back up your data on a regular basis : The most reliable solution for protection against ransomware attacks is backups. Only when you have the complete backup of your computer data, you can be assured that you won’t have to see your files compromised if or when ransomware strikes.
What to do if Ransomware attacks you?
Most experts strongly recommend against complying with the terms of an attacker by paying the ransom. This is because, first, it encourages them further. And second, there is a good chance that the attacker will attack you again in the near future. This is because when they realize that you care for your data so much that you are willing to pay for it, it only makes sense for them to launch an attack and demand another ransom, possibly even more significant.The smartest way to prepare for a ransomware attack is to create a clone of your hard drive and update it on a daily basis. This way, even if your system gets infected, you can format the hard drive and restore the data.In case you don’t have a backup, and you require ransomware data recovery then you can take help from a professional data recovery service provider like Stellar.Stellar is one of the biggest players in the data recovery industry with service access across the globe. It has over 8000 partners all over the world and has state of the art infrastructure class 100 clean room labs.
There are many data recovery service providers in the market; Stellar can be easily recommended because of the following:
- Recovering data from 1993
- No Recovery – No Charge policy
- Free pickup and drop facility
- Strong Presence in USA, Europe & Asia
- ISO 9001:2015 & ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified
- Microsoft Gold ISV Partner
- Served over 2+ million customers
Ransomware has become a severe threat to everyone who uses a computer. Many corporates, even government departments have already lost millions of dollars to this vicious malware. Thus, be sure to take appropriate measures to protect yourself and most importantly- create backups of all your important files ASAP.