Have you ever received any email with an unknown file or any WhatsApp message with a malicious link? Has your computer been blocked after downloading a file from the Internet? Have you ever been asked to pay a ransom to repair your computer? If you have experienced any of these situations, it means that you have probably been a victim of a ransomware.
What is ransomware?
A ransomware is a kind of malicious programme that blocks your system or files. Then it asks you to pay a ransom in order to unlock it. It is also known as rogueware o scareware.
How does ransomware work?
Ransomware and viruses are not the same. A virus spreads from one computer to another, whereas a ransomware goes into your device even if you don’t notice it.
The ransomware can get into the system through two fundamental channels:
- Manually: It enters into a programme, like a programme to download films or games, and then it forces the victim to install it without realizing it. It can also get into Microsoft or Adobe Flash system updates.
- Automatically: It can slip in the device when accessing disreputable websites or when opening emails that contain malicious links or attached files.
Once the ransomware has already introduced into the computer or smartphone, it can develop two different strategies to take the ransom: encrypting files or blocking the system.
- Encrypting files: It locates and encrypts the most used files on the device. Afterwards, a warning pops up on the screen with instructions on how to pay to unlock the files.
- Blocking the system: The malicious programme blocks completely the system and requires the user to pay a false fine or bill from a public institution, such as the police; or an enterprise, such as an electricity company.
What should I do if my device has been infected by a ransomware?
Paying the ransom is NOT the solution, says the USA National Cybersecurity Institute. If you pay the ransom, you will become an easy target for the cyber criminals, so they will probably attack you in the future.
If the ransomware has entered through a fraudulent email, delete it from the inbox. If it has encoded your files, you can run a backup copy. If the infection persists, format your computer.
How can I keep my system protected?
Here you can find some preventive measures to avoid the malicious programme to get into your devices:
- To have your antivirus and firewalls regularly updated.
- Not to download everything from the Internet.
- To run a backup copy of your files.
Now you know what ransomware is and how can you keep your devices safe. We hope that this article has turned out to be useful and that you can read it whenever you need it.