This article is written for the purpose of empowering our readers with much deeper knowledge of ransomware, with the goal of lessening the chance that your Windows computer will be the next victim. Ransomware is a type of malware that ranks high on the Internet as cybercriminal’s favorite milking-cow. A computer infected with this virus restricts access to the user’s system and makes the file encrypted and unusable. Therefore, data stored on the computer can not be viewed at all.

Victims will also be asked to pay the money, usually in the form of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero or etc. to restore your encrypted files back. There are cases where it is possible to browse data when you actually pay money, and there are cases where the state of your computer does not change even if you pay the ransom. Let’s know the intrusion method of ransomware and take effective measures. Ransomware infection routes can be divided into two parts, the web and email. In email attacks, it is common to encounter ransomware by accessing malicious URLs attached in emails or downloading malicious spoofed files. In particular, files attached to emails that appear to be invoices and absence notices are a trick known to many IT security professionals as phishing.

Today, there is a tendency for more intrusions through websites than with emails. It is a typical method to exploit security defects caused by critical program flaws and infect them with a virus without the knowledge of the user. In particular, if Windows Update has not been applied to a computer, the patched bugs by Microsoft is not rolled-out to the computer, increasing its attack surface in the process. Like a web page asking for the Flash Player needs to be updated in order to playback the content, and a link is provided to download it. There is a chance that the downloaded “Flash Player” is a fake one, designed as a trojan to install ransomware to the computer. Keep in mind that ransomware infection routes vary, and even legitimate sites may be rewritten as malicious by virus authors, so it is dangerous to judge by just thinking or looking at it.

What are the basic symptoms of ransomware infection?

Due to the infection, the file on the PC may be deleted, and a ransom request screen for file restoration “for a fee” may be displayed and other operations can not be performed at all. One of the most common cases is the installation of ransomware in the guise of wallpaper and adult video playback apps distributed in the unofficial app store. Many ransomware display made-up warning messages designed for the user to panic and the displayed warning statement does not disappear when the user attempts to exit from it. In addition, personally identifiable and financial information stored on the device may be taken by the malware, and if the victim does not pay a ransom, permanent loss of the vital files is the result as there is a time-limit before the decryption key will be deleted from the ransomware’s command and control center.

What can be done after an infection is discovered?

If your computer becomes inoperable or your data is encrypted and inaccessible, you may be infected by a ransomware. Although the display on the top screen of the computer includes a warning “to pay, if not the data is gone for good,” it is not guaranteed that the data can be decrypted and returned to the original state even if the ransom is paid as requested by the attacker. First of all, it is recommended to disconnect the infected PC from the Internet. Depending on the type of ransomware, there may be tools that can decrypt encrypted files, so be sure to back up encrypted files just in case. However, since there is a possibility that the data in USB will be encrypted along with the backup, we recommend that you always use an empty USB etc.

However, there are cases where data can not be decrypted even if you use a decryptable tool, in which case the only option is to reformat the computer and rebuild the data from scratch if backup does not exist. Ransomware authors are plain criminals, we recommend never pay for ransomware even if it causes your data being destroyed. There is no guarantee that the encrypted file will return when you choose to pay the ransom, and it may encourage offenders to continue developing such nasty types of malware.

Ways to handle Ransomware infections:

Check No More Ransom is a non-profit organization funded by a group of antivirus vendors and Tech companies which provides information specifically to ransomware victims, and offers tools and solutions for file and data decryption. It is not easy to know exactly what specific ransomware infected the machine. However, the no ransom provides the guidelines necessary to identify the specific ransomware and download the specific decryption tool for it. Once you find the appropriate recovery tool for your type, a link will appear to download the decryption tool, which you can run from there.

Use Free Tools from Each Vendor

Download and run a free tool that detects viruses and other malicious programs on your computer from the vendor’s site. Free decryption tools are provided by major antivirus vendors, check their respective websites and download the appropriate decryption tool for your specific ransomware. Also, depending on the type of ransomware, it can not always be restored.

Preventive measures to prevent infection with ransomware

If you do not want to lose important data or information, make regular backups. Recently, there is also a method to save data inside the PC, but basically, use an external hard disk, USB flash memory, etc. Also, keep the operating system and software up to date, Microsoft regularly releases updates for Windows every second Tuesday of the month. Applying updates maybe annoying, as proven with the criticisms of Windows 10’s update facility, but it must be done.

In order to enjoy the internet with peace of mind, it is important to keep security software in good condition. By using security software, you can block links by detecting links to illegal sites attached to emails that you find difficult to identify, and illegal files. Therefore, in order to make effective use of security software, try to keep it updated.

In order to prevent access to suspicious sites, we recommend that you restrict access to sites unrelated to your business. Also, in the email attack, it sends an email to an unspecified number of people to click on the link in the text or to open an attached file. It may be difficult to notice because it is written in a content that seems like it, but if you feel any anxiety, try to confirm the facts of the content before opening it.

Related Resources:

Ransomware In The Nutshell: What is Ransomware?

Ransomware Prevention Tips for the Healthcare Industry

Why Ransomware-as-a-Service GandCrab Is Shutting Down?

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