The importance of accessibility and protection of personal information can never be overstated especially when it comes to online dealings. This is because of the sensitive nature of such information which could prove extremely detrimental in cases where it falls into the wrong hands. One of the major instruments that facilitate such fraudulent access and use of sensitive data which is otherwise meant to be private is ransomware.
It is therefore critical for one to understand the definition as well as the methodologies of how to get rid of ransomware attacks. It is also vital for one to understand the different types of ransomware attacks that can affect an online user. This article seeks to explain all this while also outlining the various techniques which can be utilised to prevent, identify and eliminate such attacks.
In terms of operation, ransomware is simply defined as a kind of malware that is configured to deny access to the user of a particular computer network until a given monetary compensation is paid. Cybercriminals who choose to use ransomware usually take advantage of the sensitivity the computer network in question possesses in terms of accessibility.
This means that clients with more sensitive information in their networks are more likely to be attacked using ransomware when compared to those with more general and common data. The monetary compensation demanded when this technique is used Is usually paid through credit card and cryptocurrency accounts to avoid traceability.
Ransomware Infection Techniques
There are various ways through which one can be infected with ransomware. These include:
Phishing is a mechanism that is normally utilised by cybercriminals in an attempt to get an online user to reveal his or her personal information. Access to such information enables the said fraudsters to access sensitive client information while also creating new login credentials that prevent the user from gaining entry back into his or her account. Phishing emails are therefore online messages which appear legitimate on one hand while containing malware-infused attachments on the other.
A drive-by download is defined as the unintentional and unwarranted download of a malicious program into a given computer system. This generally occurs when a user visits a malware-infected site unknowingly. Once this happens, the malicious software gains access to the said computer network without the user’s knowledge or consent.
The Classification of Ransomware
There is an extremely wide range of ransomware strains in existence. However, all these strains generally fall into two distinct categories:
This is a type of ransomware that applies foreign encryption on the user files in question. This encryption is usually meant to prevent the user from accessing the said files. Crypto ransomware is generally regarded as extremely dangerous since its successful application is almost sure to leave the user completely helpless in as far as file restoration is concerned.
This means that once one’s files have been confiscated, the only choices remaining are usually to either pay the ransom or forget the files altogether. It is however also important to note that payment of the ransom is normally not a guarantee that one’s files will be restored.
This is a form of ransomware that completely locks the user out of the gadget where the infection has occurred. This is typically followed by a ransom demand from those responsible. This demand is mostly accompanied by the promise to unlock the device upon cooperation by the user.
Ransomware Response Techniques
There is a wide variety of methods that can be employed when looking to either mitigate the effects or get rid of an existing ransomware attack altogether. These include:
Users who are already victims of ransomware attacks are usually advised to desist from paying any kind of compensation demanded by the fraudsters under consideration. This is usually because of the ripple effect such kinds of payments may cause in terms of continual blackmailing of the said client. Settling the ransom may also encourage such criminals to keep victimising other users.
Decryption is mostly applied in cases where the user in question is a victim of a crypto-ransomware attack. In such cases, users are usually advised to utilise security programs otherwise known as decryptors in order to counter the encryption on their files. The user must however make sure that the decryptor used is in alignment with the ransomware version in question so as not to encrypt his files any further.
Eliminate the Threat
Users are also advised to apply techniques that can get rid of the ransomware infection even if that means not retrieving the files that have been confiscated. Such techniques include either installing scan and removal security programs or replacing the entire system altogether.
Ransomware attacks can cause untold losses in terms of sensitive user information and monetary compensation. It is therefore imperative for users to be conversant with the processes involved in the prevention and elimination of such attacks.