Ransomware: The Super Villain of Malware
Cyber criminals regularly employ phishing scam, worms, viruses, spyware, and Trojan horses to attack information systems. Ransomware is the newest super villain and is increasingly causing havoc on the South African scene. When Ransomware strikes it takes all the data it can reach hostage for a hefty Bitcoin ransom.
Ransomware attacks at work and at home
Ransomware and malware doesn’t just limit the attacks to businesses, it just as effectively extorts money from individuals. It can take your personal data and invade personal devices connected on the same network. Even if you decide to pay up, providing the money doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your kidnapped data back. This is why it is best to arm yourself with information on how it works and what to watch out for such that you can protect your valuable data.
Once you know what to look for, you can be on guard and take steps to ensure your home computer system does not fall prey to costly cyber-attacks. Share what to lookout for with your family members so that you never have to negotiate with data-hijackers.
The following are the ways to contribute to building a human firewall between cyber attackers your data:
Twelve Tips to Start with to help prevent Ransomware:
- Be aware that Malware is sophisticated enough to sneak through anti-virus software, invest in some serious safe-gaurds.
- Realize that scammers know how to appeal to your emotions. They often use scary pop-up windows that threaten legal action or claim to be from law enforcement.
- Once Ransomware is on your computer it can potentially traverse your entire system. So if something suspicious is happening to your computer. Disconnect from the network and the internet immediately to prevent it spreading to others
- Ransomware can spread to external devices; don’t leave backup drives plugged in longer than necessary.
- Report suspected threats &/ ask for help! If you aren’t sure if something is a safe, get assistance before proceeding further.
- Never-ever click on banner ads! Even if they look legitimate or are on a high-profile or trusted website.
- Stay away from browsing dodgy websites.
- Choose carefully before clicking on email attachments. Not only executable files can be infected, innocent looking Microsoft word files can carry malware too.
- Malware can appear or look unthreatening. I.e. emails that say ‘missed fax’, voicemail, or important notification.
- If in doubt, don’t click! If something seems a bit suspicious, comes from an unknown address or is not an expected email then don’t take a risk.
- Make sure email comes from a valid domain name. What is a valid address? One you know.
- Back up your data. Regularly and on different devices. This is absolutely key!!!
Settings that work to protect you:
- Employ an email filter to block executive files and compressed files before they get to your inbox.
- Keep web browsers, needed plug-ins and systems up-to-date.
- Block pop-up ads!
Actions make a difference
Don’t be scared of being blamed or shamed. Don’t stay silent. If you think malware has infected your computer. Speak up, right away, so that IT can get on the case and limit potential damage.
Don’t bow to the pressure to make it seem like you know. Scammers are always inventing new and more complex ways of attacking. If you aren’t sure, don’t be shy. Ask an IT professional for help before you click.
Don’t be the weakest link. Preventing Ransomware takes a multi-faceted approach.
- Educate yourself on the tactics and social engineering schemes scammers use.
- Cultivate good basic security behaviours online.
- Practice healthy scepticism before you get to clicking.