December 16, 2015

Ransomware is a type of malware that uses a malicious software code to lock a user’s computer and allows access only after certain ‘ransom’ fee is paid. It may infect the system in the form of a Trojan horse or worm by exploiting a security flaw. Ransomware usually spreads through email attachments, spam website links or infected software applications. Once executed in a computer, the malware can either lock the entire system or encrypt the stored data with a password.

Types Of Ransomware

  • Cryptowall: This ransomware is mainly spread through spam emails that contain a malware infected attachment claiming to be an important message. Once the user opens the attachment, the malware is executed and the device gets locked.
  • FBI Ransomware: It is installed on a user’s computer once he visits a website with malicious script. When the system is infected, it displays a message, purported to be from FBI, that the computer has been blocked and the user needs to pay a fee to restore his data.
  • Power Worm: This is probably the most perilous type of ransomware in which the victim’s data is not only encrypted but the key to restore the information is also destroyed. In such a malware attack, the only option to get the data is to restore it from back-up.
  • Chimera: The Chimera malware works by threatening to post the victim’s files on the internet if he does not pay the demanded ransom. In such situations, even if a user has a back-up of the files, he might get convinced to pay the fine just to prevent the files from being leaked.

Defending Against Ransomware

  • Never open embedded URLs or attachments in emails from an unknown source.
  • Download and constantly update anti-virus and firewall definitions.
  • Maintain a backup of your files on an external hard drive or online.
  • Enable your popup blocker to avoid accidentally clicking on a spam advertizement.
  • Update all the software on your computer to fix any open security vulnerability.
  • Enable the option to ‘Show file extensions’ in your systems settings. This will make it easier to detect malicious files. Make sure you do not open any file with an unknown extension.
  • If you notice malicious software running or view a ransom message on your computer, disconnect the internet immediately to avoid transmitting your data to the cybercriminals.

Taking precautions to protect your information and staying cautious are the best counter measures to avoid being infected by Ransomware.