What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is computer malicious software that install on a victim’s device (e.g., computer, smartphone, wearable device) that will hold the victim’s machine hostage until a ransom is paid.

Some ransomware is more advanced that others, where some basic versions will just display a message asking for a payment to be made and more advanced versions will encrypt the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demand a ransom payment be made to decrypt these files.

Ransomware files are typically infect computers by using a Trojan that has been disguised as a normal legitimate file. Our guide to Trojan’s can be found here.

Ransomware Prevention

Below are a few things that can help prevent ransomware becoming a problem for your business or computer.

Back up files regularly

Back up’s should be done at regular intervals and not stored on the same computer that you are backing up instead a designated storage medium should be used. It is wise to make sure that all files are encrypted so that only you can access and restore your data. This will not only protect your data against ransomware but also any accidental deletion or theft.

Don’t enable macros

A large number of ransomware is distributed within Microsoft Office documents that will ask the user to enable macros. This will allow the macro, once enabled, to install the ransomware via the DOCM document. A new update within Office 2016 limits the functionality of macros and prevents them enabling on documents downloaded from the internet.

Don’t open unsolicited E-Mail attachments

The most common way that any virus or malware is able to infect a computer is through E-Mail attachments. If the E-Mail is not from a trusted source do not open any attachments and even if it is from a trusted source be vigilant.

Keep all software up to date

Patching is one of most important key controls of Cyber Security. Some malware, often Trojan’s, rely on bugs that are within applications and software. By patching these applications and software you decrease the risk of being infected with ransomware.

History of Ransomware

Ransomware first appeared in 1989 and was nicknamed the AIDS Trojan and was spread by floppy disks that were called “AIDS Information Introductory Diskette”. This would hide all directories and encrypts the data on the C: drive and would ask that a payment of 189 US$ be sent to a P.O Box in Panama.

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