What Is Ransomware And How Do I Protect Myself From It?

Written by William Song

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You have probably already heard of the new ransomware outbreak Petya or GoldenEye. First reported on 27 June, this new ransomware is the second major global ransomware attack this year, and is likely to be using a different set of techniques to spread when compared to the previous WannaCrypt ransomware attack. Here’s a short guide on what ransomware is, and how you can protect yourself from it.

What Is Ransomware?

It is a cyber-attack that involves hackers taking control of your computer and demanding payments in return for your files. They get in through a malicious software, encrypt your information and then threaten to block access to your important files until a ransom has been paid.

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How Does The Petya And WannaCry Ransomware Work?

Both ransomware software takes over computers and demands a ransom paid in Bitcoins. The software can spread quickly and uses the EternalBlue vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. While Microsoft has released a patch, not everyone seems to have installed it. The ransomware locks important data on your system and leaves you with only two files – instructions on what to do next and a decryption programme. The ransomware then gives you instructions on how to retrieve your files, where to pay and then releases your information if you follow the steps.

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How Do I Know If Something Is Ransomware?

The software is usually an attachment to an innocent looking email. Once you download and open it, it quickly takes over your hard drive, making it impossible to access or retrieve anything stored on there.

What Is The Major Impact So Far?

The world's biggest cyber attack from WannaCrypt ransomware has hit at least a 150 countries and infected 300,000 machines since it started spreading in May 2017. The victims include hospitals, universities, manufacturers and government agencies in countries like Britain, China, Russia, Germany and Spain.

FOUR EASY STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM RANSOMWARE

Install Windows Update.

Get the patch, NOW! Make sure you always update your Microsoft products. Get the most updated patches. Visit the Microsoft website to see what patches you need.

Use An Antivirus Programme.

Antivirus programmes can stop ransomware from being downloaded onto

computers,

and can detect existing ransomware. Install a solid software and make sure you update it regularly. Installing after you are attacked is not going to do you any good. Complete a full scan every day, and especially after every update.  Perform Antivirus scans on any files you have downloaded to ensure that it is a clean file before you open it.

Beware Of Suspicious Emails, URLs And Apps.

For ransomware to work, hackers need to upload malicious software onto a victim's computer. The most common way for the software to be installed on a victim's device is through phishing emails, unsolicited emails, attachments, malicious adverts on websites, and questionable apps and programs.

Exercise caution when opening unsolicited emails/ attachments/visiting websites that you are unfamiliar with. DO NOT click the links in the suspicious emails and please DO NOT download or run any suspicious and unknown attachments from senders you don’t know.Never download an app that has not been verified by an official store, and read reviews before installing programs.

Backup Your Important Files

An attack from this ransomware software means a loss of all your files, including your favourite photos and important documents. To protect against that, make sure you always backup your information and files onto an external hard drive or USB storage device, something that is not connected to the internet. This way, if you are attacked, you’re still safe.

SEE ALSO: How To Avoid Dangerous Email Spoofing Attacks

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