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Ransomware: What It Is and How to Avoid It

10 mins read
written by
Dhoof Mohamed

Cyber criminals can use a variety of different tools, but one of the most dangerous is ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infiltrates a device or network with the goal of holding its data hostage and/or suspending certain operations until the owner pays a specific sum of money. Understanding the different types of ransomware you may encounter can help you to protect yourself from this potentially catastrophic situation.

Types of Ransomware

There are two primary types of ransomware currently in use: computer locker ransomware and crypto ransomware. Computer locker ransomware denies you access to infected devices and systems, effectively “locking you out.” The owner of the ransomware will demand a specific sum of money you must pay before you will be able to regain access. 

Crypto ransomware, on the other hand, works by encrypting specific files until a ransom is paid. In some cases, files may be deleted if the ransom is not paid within a specific timeframe. For example, the software may delete one file per hour until the requested amount of money is received. 

How Ransomware Infects

Cyber criminals use a variety of sophisticated attacks to disseminate malicious software. The most common strategy used involves spam. In most cases, the victim will receive an email designed to trick him into downloading an attachment or clicking a malicious link. The email may be well-disguised, possibly resembling an invoice or some other type of important communication. When the victim clicks the link or downloads the attached material, the infection begins. 

Another method cyber criminals may use to infect computer systems involves a tool known as an “exploit kit.” With this type of attack, the hacker will typically install code on a legitimate website that redirects the user to a malicious page. The exploit kit looks for weaknesses in the victim’s system and uses them to break in. In these cases, the infection often occurs soon after the victim is redirected to the site, even if the victim doesn’t click any other links or agree to download anything. 

Protecting Yourself from Ransomware

Infection with ransomware can be both costly and frustrating. If you own a business, this type of infection can even impact your company’s reputation and overall profitability. For this reason, taking steps to avoid ransomware attacks is essential. To protect yourself from ransomware:

1. Do not click suspicious links. 

Never click a link you received from an unknown or untrusted source. These links may lead to malicious websites. 

2. Do not download attachments or software that may be unsafe. 

If you are not confident that the source of a specific attachment or software program is reliable, do not download it. Even if you recognize the source, don’t download anything unless you can be sure the sender intentionally provided the material. Hackers sometimes hijack the email accounts of innocent people and use them to spread ransomware. 

3. Protect your devices and networks. 

One of the best things you can do to avoid ransomware attacks is to invest in solid security measures, such as firewalls and antivirus software. These tools can identify and block suspicious links and/or downloads so you will be less likely to become a victim. 

Skyriver IT is frustration free IT. We align with what you need to stay focused on your business and help you sleep better at night knowing your environment is reliable and secure. Contact us to discuss how we can help your company.

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