We’ve all heard the term “malware” which is basically just software (evil.. evil software) that attempts to damage your computer and/or your stored data, for the third party’s benefit.There are a few common types of malware that you probably have heard of at some point in time; and if not, it’s best if you do learn now because with these advancements in technology, come advancements in destruction.
- Adware: Considered the least dangerous. More often than not, these are the ads you see on websites and sometimes even popups. These lack game though; you must be extremely knew to computers if you click on these, and you deserve to be hacked.
- Virus: A contagious piece of code that attaches itself to a software you own or download (most of the times illegally). This multiplies itself each time the corrupted software is executed.
- Trojan: The complete opposite of an adware: these can destroy your computer. These can hack into your finance, take over your computers, even cause your servers to be obsolete temporarily (or permanently).
- Key loggers: These spy on your every user name, every password, as well as every little sensitive information. Never type your user and pass anywhere if it is not on a secure webpage.
Now that you know the most common forms of malware, you’re ready to learn about the richest malware there is: Ransomware.
According to a report by the FBI and an article by NBC NEWS, Ransomware generated a billion dollars in 2016. Let me repeat that. Ransomware generated A BILLION DOLLARS.
B-but wait, what even is ransomware?
In the same fashion as other malware, ransomware finds its way into your system either by an attachment from spam email, through un-secure downloads, etc. However, instead of infecting your computer or corrupting your programs, the third party behind this ransomware steals your data, making it inaccessible for you. This could range from a simple word document, to the entire stored information on your computer, it could all be out of your control.
What is done with the information?
If you haven’t noticed, ransomware has the word ransom in it: money demanded in exchange for the release of a person; or in this case… your information.
Pretty weird, isn’t it? Except, it isn’t. Ransomware blocks the access to your data and you can restart your computer all you want but it is not going to help. It might be one of the only malware known to man that you are completely defenseless against. To retrieve your information, you often have to pay a few hundred dollars, often in bitcoin (online currency, a topic for another day).
There are more than a number of cases in which the payment might exceed thousands of $$; research has concluded that business would go from $20,000 to $50,000 to recover important information. This is only expected to get worse in 2017.
How can I not be a victim of ransomware?
You can’t not be a victim of ransomware, it could happen in any second. However, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself to lower the odds or have any malware impact you less.
- When ever you receive some sort of email with a clickable link, EVEN IF IT IS FROM A UNIVERSITY YOU GO TO OR YOUR PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT, make sure to always check the source of the link before you click it. For example, this email is from a university in Florida. It has the proper logo and even the email it is sent from seems legitimate.
As you can see, the email seems to be coming from a reputable source and the email does look like a legitimate one.
However, make sure to always check the link out before clicking on it willy nilly.
Omegahentai.com? This is clearly something suspicious and is not meant to be accessed. We just prevented a possible malware.
2. Have back up of your data, or at least data that is important to you and it would be a shame if you didn’t own anymore.
3. We can’t tell you not to perform illegal downloads of movies, songs, or even games. But if you do do so, make sure you run anti-virus scanners now and then to make sure nothing has been sneaking around through your files and folders.
4. If there is a new system or software update for your computer (may it be a reputable program or your operating system itself) we urge you to go ahead and update.
Remember, if you ever fall victim to ransomware and do end up paying, it is not certain you will get your information back. Therefore, it’s better to prevent than to be sorry.