For the past few months I’ve been getting e-mail from my-self with a file attachment.
This is a cleaver technique for some bright hacker to plant a virus, or some malware or even a way to plant ransomware on my computer. If you have been following us on Twitter or Facebook, you may know that ransomware is on the rise across the glove. These clever hacks have increased their target from individuals to organization such as municipalities and hospitals.
Just by chance you haven’t heard of Ransomware. Ransomware is the most destructive and rapidly growing variation of malware (Computer Virus). Once it penetrates your PC, it will encrypt most of your files (documents, music, images, .. etc) and demand a ransom to release them. This will all happen silently while you may be using your computer, and then when reboot, you will get your ransom note. To make matters worse, if you use cloud storage, it may encrypt that file as well. I your computer happens to be networked, it can run across the entire network. Scary eh.
Unlike many of the viruses of the past, this one is wicked, and fast growing. In just the second quarter of 2015 there were 4 million new incidents of Ransomware alone. To make matters worse, the creators of this virus have multiple techniques in it delivery as well as various mutations of the virus to stay ahead of virus detection programs.
This history of this virus is interesting as well. The first noted case was created in 1989 by the less-than-stable biologist, Dr. Joseph Popp. Popp’s version was distributed through a computer disks that was supposed to contain an AIDS education program. Instead user’s computers were locked and Dr. Popp would ever so generously unlock them for just $198.
Today if you were to get tangled up by some form of Ransomware 2.0 such as the notorious Cryptolocker, it would cost you anything from approximately $600-2000 to unlock your device. To further obscure their trail the bandits demand payment in untraceable bitcoins.
If you think that not having a PC will reduce your chances of getting infected, think again. Today, computer hackers can infect almost every known Computer Operation System. This includes, PC, Apple, Linux, Android, as well as any computer device from smar phone, to fitness ware.take just about anything ransom, from your PC to your Mac or Linux, your iPhone or android and even your fitness trackers.
It used to be that you could find a cure for most viruses, however the ransomware today use super-strong encryption methods that simply cannot be reversed without the correlating unlocking keys.
Ransomware affects home users, small businesses, mega corporations, governments and don’t forget the perps new favorite target, hospitals networks. The situation has become so perilous that on March 31st the US and Canada issued a joint cyber alert imploring citizens to take the threat seriously and use the Internet with forethought and caution.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your chances of getting attacked by ransomware.
- Keep away from shady links in the body of emails and attachments and on websites Clicking on malicious links that are designed to appear legit can cause your computer or device to download locking malware among other things
- Back up your files on a periodic basis. When it comes to beating ransomware the easiest way to defeat it effects is to use backups to rebuild your computer. You need to reformat you device and reinstall everything. It’s either that or pay up, and HOPE you get the key.
- Keep your Malware software software and Operating System updated. Malware and zero-day exploits including Ransomware just love to meet up with an operating system or other software that’s in need of updating or patching. One of the very most effective methods to keep hackers out it to ensure that your device is always running the most recent version of software and that your OS is always at the most current version.
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