Recently in the news, much more often than it has been year prior, is hacking for ransom. Otherwise known as ransom-ware; software that archives, encrypts, & destroys ones files, followed with a ransom demand of payment for the encryption key. Once payment is made the process is reversible, thus ‘returning’ the files. This type of attack is completely financially based. Long gone are the days of teenagers causing mischief & raising havoc simply “because they can”, showing off their skills & knowledge of advanced systems.
By baiting an end user to click on a hyper link, or through an email with a subject worded to pique ones interest, such an attack depends on an unacknowledged user, an out of date system, or the absence of security software.
Once the end user is locked out of their system or files, they are notified by a lock screen with instructions to pay over an untraceable, & irreversible payment method such as BitCoin or MoneyPak.
Currently there is virtually no way to recover from such an attack. The choice really comes down to recovering from backup, doing without, or pay the cost.
As such, lets look at some ways to prevent such an event in the first place.
Perform timely archives
If one is able to pull their files from an archived source, such as an attached USB drive, or an online source, then there is little leverage to pay the ransom.
Update and patch your systems
While it may seem common sense, it’s often overlooked. Keeping a schedule to manually update your system & security software will assure no dangerous assumptions are made.
Use industry leading antivirus software
Often victims of ransom-ware have been using a free or expired antivirus & expect enterprise level security. As the thieves are ever evolving, so must your security software be updated to match the expectations.
Basic online education can go a long way. Regardless if it’s your aunt that is iffy about technology, or the CEO of a company, knowing the danger signs of obvious scams is vital to avoiding ransom-ware attacks.
In conclusion, when it comes to ransom-ware, prevention is the most valuable tool. Keeping your system patched, & your security software up to date in addition to performing proper backups of important files can literally save you hundreds to thousands of dollars, & a heck of a lot of headache. Authors of ransom-ware require vulnerabilities that are avoidable through proper computer routine maintenance.