Recently, there has been a surge in online criminal activity, with one of the current biggest concerns being ransomware. As the title indicates, ransomware involves criminals holding people to ransom, by threatening them with a variety of actions or by stealing their data and blackmailing into retrieving the data.
Ransomware can is used in a variety of different forms, such as hackers accessing private images or videos, and blackmailing the person by threatening to share the files to the public. This often forces people into paying off the ransom rather than reporting to authorities through fear and embarrassment. The hackers play on the emotional distress it can cause a person, which enables them to extract large sums of money.
Essentially, ransomware is a type of malware that locks files, data, or even a full PC which enable criminals to extort money. While businesses can often become targets, there is an alarming increase in the number of non-business device users that have become victimized. Now, anyone that uses online devices can become a target, although not everybody will necessarily have files stored that are important enough for them to be held to ransom.
Other strategies include sending a message that informs the device user that illegal activity has been discovered, and that they must either pay a fine or risk prosecution. Also, it would be good to note that there are two kinds of ransom attacks, such as lock screen ransomware and encryption ransomware. Both types are being frequently used to make money for cyber criminals.
You are most at risk of being targeted by ransomware if you are using untrusted websites, as the security features on these are poor. You are also more susceptible if you open attachments that are sent to you via email from unknown sources. You should always be very careful about opening any email from someone that you don’t know, particularly if there is an attachment that they are persuading you to open.
There are a number of cyber security features that you can use to protect yourself from ransomware including keeping your operating system up to date, having antivirus solutions, avoid untrusted websites, use difficult passwords and being cautious when you are sent emails.
Criminals are frequently introducing new methods of attack, so it is impossible to be completely safe from attacks. One good idea is to keep secure back-ups of your data, meaning if you have a set of files that are important to you, a back-up means you do not need to pay for the retrieval of data. The data recovery cost of lost or stolen data can be expensive, so having a back-up will stop you from losing the data completely.
A lot of protection from cyber criminals comes down to common sense. If you receive an email that doesn’t look very professional or is asking for sensitive information, don’t be fooled. Similarly, if you receive a strange message claiming to be the government, ask yourself why they would contact you via email. If it does not make sense, then ignore the content and move on.
Also Read: The Move Towards Digital Transformation – Highlighting Importance Of Cyber Security For India In 2017