Ransomware The Complete Guide: As we know that there are pros and cons of everything as in drinking too much coffee or watching TV or using internet. As much as internet makes our lives easier and effort free, it also brings up many issues with it. I am pointing towards the virus and malware affecting our operating systems, PC, mobile phones and etc.
A computer virus is designed to spread from host to host and has the ability to replicate itself. A virus is actually a code or a program designed to affect or damage systems and its files. It operates by inserting or attaching itself to a legitimate program or document that supports macros in order to execute its code.
In its process virus has the potential to cause unexpected damage such as harming the system software by corrupting or destroying data.
So we often get some spam mails when on opening crashes our system or our system gets hanged and we say “Oh it’s a virus”. There have been many strong computer viruses namely overwrite viruses, direct action viruses, boot virus, macro virus and lot more which are basically designed to cause large amount of damage to our systems, files and disks. So on 12th May 2017, the biggest ever cyber attack was seen in internet history.
A ransomware namely Wanna Cry stormed through the web, with the damage epicentre being in Europe. This ransomware Wanna Cry caused a vulnerability in windows operating system, which was first discovered by the NSA and later publicly revealed to the world by the Shadow Brokers.
It infected over 200,000 computer machines in first few hours. Some big organisations like the NSA and Renault were struck by this attack. Within seconds all the data gets encrypted and then just a few days are there to pay thousands of dollars and get all the data back.
What is a Ransomware?
Ransomware is actually a piece of malware that causes huge damage to a system by blocking the victims access to his/her files and the only way to regain the access and get everything back is by paying a huge ransom. It works in this way :- the attacker generates a key pair and places the corresponding public key in the malware and then this malware is released.
To carry out the crypto viral attack, malware generates a random key and encrypts the data with it. This is known as hybrid encryption. It puts up a message on the users screen that includes the cipher text and how to pay the ransom money. Then the victim is left with no option but to pay the ransom online to the attacker.
The attacker then receives the payment and searches for another victim. Ransomware attacks are basically carried out by Trojan horse, entering a system through downloaded files or a vulnerability in a network service.
This program then runs a payload which locks up the system in some fashion and then displaying a fake warning on the victim’s screen.
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Users can encounter this threat through a variety of means. It can be downloaded on systems when users visit some particular compromised sites. It can also arrive as attachments from spammed mails, dropped by exploit kits or downloaded from malicious pages through malvertisements.
Once executed in the systems it can either lock the computer screens or encrypt predetermined files. In case of the first scenario a full screen image or notification is displayed on the victims screen which prevents him from using his system. The notification also shows the instructions on how user can pay the ransom.
The second case prevents the user to access particular files such as images, documents and spreadsheets.
It is considered as a “Scare ware” as it forces the victim to pay a fee or ransom as we must say by scaring them.
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There is no way when it comes to stopping ransomware but a multi layered approach that prevents the ransomware from affecting networks and systems is the best way to minimize this risk of getting our files damaged.
For Home-Users an antivirus software namely Trend Micro Security 10 provides great robust protection against ransomware by blocking spam emails and other files and websites associated with the threat.
For Small and Medium Sized businesses an antivirus named Trend Micro Worry-Free Services Advanced provides cloud based email gateway security through Hosted Email Security.
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Prevention of Ransomware
- Avoid opening unknown or unverified emails and don’t open the links embedded in those emails.
- Always backup your important files.
- Update your software, programs and applications to protect against the latest attacks regularly.
It is impossible to help yourself by protecting with some random tools or antivirus. You have to be careful on internet to protect yourself. Ransomware can be really dangerous for you! Stay protected.