What would you do if you come back to your home and you are locked out and can’t get in? The lock has been changed and all windows sealed. This doesn’t happen in the physical world, but it can happen online.
This is how it works
You receive an email from a stranger who claims that you have won 68 million dollars from some online lottery scheme you have never heard of. You know it’s probably too good to be true, but you are curious – so you open the mail and nothing unusual happens. You read the contents and it sounds legit. You know you didn’t win but you want to validate this, just in case.
You then click on the big red button which says, “Click here to claim your prize”. You are redirected to the lottery website. You read through the content and you decide that this is too good to be true and navigate away – just another day on the internet.
Except, when you visited the lottery website you didn’t know that the website had malware. When the page was loading on your browser there was malware getting deployed with the rest of the page. Unfortunately, the malware is advance, and your antivirus does not recognise it, so it goes undetected and find its way to the heart of your operating systems.
Then it locks you out, demanding that you pay a ransom to release control. This type of attack is called a ransomware, a type of malicious software that uses encryption to hold data for ransom. It targets smartphones, PC’s, laptops and servers. It can also be distributed through spam emails, phishing emails and websites which are not secure.
Tips on how to deal with a ransomware attack
- Do not open or read spam email.
- Never click on dangerous links and attachments.
- Use respectable antivirus and keep it updated.
- Back up important data to an external hard drive or to the cloud.
- Perform system updates regularly.
- If you are infected by ransomware, do not pay the ransom.
- Restore any impacted files from a known good backup.
Ransomware hackers make a living by going after honest internet users. With new ransomware variations springing up every now and again, you need to do what you can to limit your exposure. Never open email from unknown senders, never click on links in suspicious emails or websites and keep your antivirus updated.