We use the internet every day without thinking of the risks that come with it. Going online carries numerous risks that you should be aware of. This article will look at one of the risks-ransomware, and what to do if you get a ransomware email.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a form of malware or malicious malware. Malware is code designed by malicious actors to destroy or cause damage to computers. Ransomware is regarded as crypto-ransomware as it demands money. Ransomware is a code that encrypts your computer or data, making them inaccessible. The hackers demand a ransom, mainly in Bitcoin, as it’s harder to trace anyone. The ransom is typically demanded in exchange for a decryption key.
How to identify Ransomware
You need to ensure you are familiar with the different forms of ransomware by reading extensively. Monitor your metadata and file servers for any odd, renamed, or unfamiliar files. Sometimes, you may notice files that were previously not there or have been replicated. As soon as you notice these strange occurrences, run your anti-malware apps to scan your computer. Research on the latest mediums cybercriminals is using to deliver ransomware.
What to Do When Ransomware Strikes
Cybercriminals use different ways to deliver ransomware, the most common being emails. These emails have different claims and reasons to compel the user to download the attachments or click on links in the email. The email may claim to be from a trusted authority such as the government or your bank. The email may contain news that may scare or excite them into clicking or downloading.
Here is what to do when you get a suspected ransomware email:
- The minute you realize it could be ransomware, take a screenshot of it if you need a reference when you report to the authorities.
- Run your anti-malware scanner to confirm if it is indeed ransomware. If it turns out to be ransomware, the anti-malware app will eliminate it from your computer.
- If at the workplace, ask for some assistance from the IT department. If your anti-malware subscription company offers customer service, call them for support.
- Please turn off the computer to cut it off from the internet and avoid the ransomware from spreading to other computers.
Here is what you should NOT do when attacked by ransomware
- Do not pay the ransom. Experts advise against paying the hackers. You have no assurance they will send you the decryption code.
- Do not put off taking action. If you wait several hours or even days before you take action, it might be the difference between a minor inconvenience and losing all your files.
- Do not turn on or use the computer. If it is infected, continuing to use it can damage more files that you might have saved.
How to protect yourself
1. Use quality anti-ransomware apps
Subscribe to a quality anti-ransomware app. Most companies offer you a free trial or free services to allow you to sample their security quality. Most of these subscription services are affordable, and the tiers depend on the security level you need.
Always back up your data regularly. If you are attacked, you can restore your files after eliminating the ransomware.
3. Avoid Attachments and Links
Avoid downloading any attachments or links in strange emails. Copy the link onto a secure browser and go to the website directly. If it is indeed malware, your anti-malware will detect it and stop any attempts to attack. Alternatively, hover on the link to see its source. If the URL reads HTTP, avoid it. A legit URL will often read HTTPS.
4. Only Download from Trusted Sites
Do not download any files from unknown sites. If you have to, download via trusted and reputable sites. If downloading apps, download from trusted app stores. These files or apps may be disguised as ransomware and attack once you launch the apps or open the files.
5. Update your OS and software
Ransomware often comes in different forms. Software updates typically contain security patches that take care of newly discovered vulnerabilities. If you do not update, the hackers use this vulnerability to attack you. An example is WannaCry ransomware that attacked Windows users who had not updated their software.
If you are informed of ransomware, its different variants, and how to spot them, you have a better chance of staying safe. Ransomware attacks are common, so be extra vigilant when opening emails. Avoid downloading any attachments or clicking on links. Running your anti-malware scanner is the surest way to confirm if a file is ransomware.