You've heard about it infecting big banks down to everyday people like you and I. The scary thing is that you can fall victim to it at the click of a button, from a legitimate looking source. In this post we help you to help yourself by exploring not only ransomware, but also the different types of Malware that surround it.
Ransomware falls under the umbrella of Malware, the blanket term that defines “Malicious Software”, created to compromise your information, gain information or extort money from you. To fully understand Ransomware, let's start by exploring Adware and Spyware.
This is typically seen through unwanted ads appearing whilst you are online. Adware gains access to your computer through posing as a legitimate download (see the pictured example above), once installed it collects marketing data and other information that you’re not aware of. This information is then sold to other hackers so they can utilise the information for other purposes. A common example of Adware is a user trying to reach a search engine like Google but then being redirected to a nearly exact replica site with ads clogging up the screen - a warning sign should be if your Google homepage has ads on it anywhere.
Like its name would suggest Spyware is parked quietly in the background of your computer and just observes everything that you do. It is acquired in a similar way to Adware, but can also be contracted through email downloads and attachments. It sits and watches as you visit your bank website, to your childrens' Facebook accounts. Scary right? One of the key goals of Spyware is for you to not know it’s there and to do anything to make sure you don’t find it. Spyware makes it nearly impossible for you to remove it by constantly changing your settings.
Ransomware gains access to your systems like both Adware and Spyware, imitating legitimate downloads and executing when it has downloaded. There are many different strains of Ransomware but the outcome is always the same, you being requested to pay for access to your systems that have been remotely locked. There’s a catch though, there’s a very high possibility that you’re not going to get your money back (you’re dealing with criminals after-all).
Where does it come from?
Gone are the days when viruses were made in the bedroom of a teenager as a hobby. Malware is big business, with some studies estimating that it is costing $100 Billion dollars a year. These are being created by intelligent cyber criminals and with such high stakes, they are persistent.
Knowing how much money that these criminals can make, they are constantly evolving their Malware so it manifests into new strains that can work their way around your computer protection, even antivirus.
The question remains: How do I protect myself?
Protecting yourself and your business from all types of Malware isn't difficult. In most cases a solid reputable up-to-date anti-virus will do the trick.
Ransomware is a little different however - as it's not exactly a virus thus can evade the most secure anti-virus. At Lancom we believe that the best protection rather than a cure is prevention. In our guide “Don’t let Ransomware lock your data” we give you an in-depth look at how to best protect yourself and prevent your business becoming another statistic.