Ransomware is a new form a malware that has taken over the news. It is even becoming more popular than the malware we know as computer virus. But what is Ransomware?
Well, Ransomware refers to a malware (that is, a dangerous computer program) that encrypts your computer data (in most cases, locking you out of the computer), and then asking you to pay a certain amount (ransom) so that access to your computer can be restored to you.
Pretty dangerous right? Yes. Ransomware is very dangerous. And in some cases, if your computer has sensitive information, the Ransomware might tell you that if you do not pay up as soon as possible, then that information will be released to the public.
Now, that is where the rush to pay the ransom comes in. Should you pay, or should you not pay? Well, let’s first talk about how to prevent ransomware from infecting your computer in the first place.
How to Prevent Ransomware Infestation
As I mentioned earlier, Ransomware is just another type of malware.
So, the preventive measure you take to avoid malware such as computer virus, trojans and others, also applies to ransomware. As a remainder, here are some of the preventive measure:
Regularly run an antivirus scan. And more importantly, always keep your antivirus up-to-date.
If there is an update to your antivirus program and you refuse, or neglect it, then running an antivirus scan every second of the day might not do you any good. So, make sure to always keep it up-to-date.
If you are using a Windows 10 computer, and you do not have extra money to pay for a third-party antivirus. Do not despair, Windows 10 comes built-in with one of the best antivirus – Windows Defender – just keep it up-to-date, then run Quick and Full System scan at regular intervals during the day.
You can also enable the Real-time protection features.
How many programs do you have installed on your computer? Well, the number does not matter, what matters is your ability to keep all of them up-to-date.
An out-of-date application does not have the latest security patch(es). So, if a malware attaches itself to the application, your up-to-date antivirus might not be able to spot it. Because, it will think that the malware is a feature in the application.
So, always try to update the installed programs in your computer. This will ensure that any malware (ransomware) that finds its way to your computer will not be able to attach itself to any of your programs. Thus, it will make it easier for your antivirus program to spot it, and deal with it promptly.
Your Security Ethics
To be factful, the truth is, your computer will not get infected with a ransomware if you do not go looking for it.
Am sorry if I upset you with that statement. But that is the fact.
In most of the cases, your computer becomes infested with malware because you either:
- Installed a program that has it
- Visit a website that distributes it
- Open an email attachment that is infect with it
- Download a file that is infected with it. Etc.
Now you see. Your computer can only be infected with a ransomware, because of an action you took. So;
- Do not opt to trying new apps from developers you do not trust.
Not even apps that I might recommend.
- Be very mindful of the websites you visit.
If your browser warns you about them, listen. If the website is asking your permission to add something (anything) to your browser or computer, ask yourself. Do I trust them enough to be confident that what they want to add is not a ransomware or other forms of malware?
- If you receive an email from someone you do not know. Even if it is from a friend, think twice before opening the attachment, or clicking on any link in the email.
- And for heaven’s sake. Stop downloading every single little file you find on the internet.
Even that funny meme you cannot resist might be the carrier of the ransomware.
What am trying to say in essence is,
Mind the Way You Use the Internet.
Mind the Things You Allow on Your Computer.
What to do After a Ransomware have Infected your Device
This is the tricky aspect. And you should not take any suggestions in this section as a professional advice. It is just my own opinion on the topic, and it might not apply to your own situation.
Should I pay the Ransom?
For me, I will not recommend you pay the ransom. Why?
Because, when you pay, it will encourage the developer of the ransomware to make extra effort so that they can infect more people.
But if you do pay, make sure that you take your unlocked machine to a computer analyst, so that they will scrutinize the computer very well to make sure that the Ransomware developer did not leave any piece of code that will enable them infect your computer later in the future.
This is not a strange phenomenon with ransomware developers or authors.
Importance of Regular Backup
Someone once said: “There is no eventuality that a backup will not save you from.” Ransomware infestation is one of those eventualities.
If you regularly backup your machine, then what you need to do after your computer becomes infested with a Ransomware is, format the drive, and restore your computer with the newest backup. Then you are good to go.
Note though that, formatting your disk and restoring it with the latest backup does not mean that your sensitive data cannot be leaked. This is because, some ransomware does more than just encrypt your computer, it also, sends a copy of your drive to the ransomware author.
So, even after you have format the drive, the ransomware developer will still have the content of your drive with him. So, you may need to take more drastic measures to protect those data.
Please, contact your local authorities for a way forward in this regard.
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