Ransomware is a type of malware that takes your computer for ransom and will deny you any entry or access to your computer. Perhaps the most frustrating part for the owner of the computer is that not only can they not access their computer files, but they have to pay a ransom for the restriction to be removed. A good example of ransom malware is the Trojan horse malware named cryptoLocker. This will encrypt your files and folders hold them hostage until you pay a ransom. Once paid, the criminals remove the malware from your system and it runs as usual. This type of attack is extremely infuriating, but it has been described by many as ‘The Perfect Crime’, because it starts with a simple email.
How Does My Computer Become Infected With Ransomware?
Trouble will begin the moment you click on a malicious mail attachment from a new or suspicious source. In some cases, the trouble might be a link that comes within the mail. It is also easy for you to spot this kind of malware. They all have recognisable features, so they can be easily spotted, often there will be a type of ‘call to action’ within the text. This could surface as ‘READ THIS’ or ‘REPLY STRAIGHT AWAY’, if you read the email and it has a sense of urgency about it, it is best to just delete it, you never know – it could be a Trojan horse waiting to be let in. These types of viruses also hang out around funny websites, and social networks – so you must be on your guard at all times.
What do I do now?
- Regular users should be educated on the rise of cybercrime
- Antivirus software should be updated on a regular basis and enabled at all times so that protection runs 24/7.
- Make it possible for the system to receive automatic updates from Sophos Update Manager
- Do not be reckless when opening any mail, if it looks dodgy it probably is..
- Watch out for warning signs
- Firewalls should always be enabled
- Don’t click on suspicious links
Help, I’m locked out of my computer!
Due to the nature of this malware it is always best to seek professional help. IT professionals are your best hope in successfully removing the malware from the computer. Sometimes Anti-Virus software isn’t enough to protect yourself and your computer from external threats. This type of malware cannot be flushed out the system simply by conducting a full system scan. At this point it is likely that files will have been encrypted. Many companies like Sophos have created decryption tools which can help; but ultimately you should seek support and advice from an IT professional immediately.
It doesn’t matter if you are just a computer owner, a small business or a large business – nobody is going to want their computer to be taken hostage. If your computer is fully secure and protected at all times then there should be no reason for you to part with any money whatsoever. The bad news about this is that you can’t stop cybercrime like this, and Ransomware is just one type of cybercrime, but by keeping it protected you will be able to keep the cyber-criminals at bay.
We have been doing lots of reading around on the topic of Ransomware, and we are still to find out whether people gained back control after they had paid the ransom. If you have had your computer taken by ransom, let us know and leave a comment below.