The threats of cyberattacks is an ever-growing problem. Most cyberattacks are caused by encrypted viruses. Encrypted viruses are a type of virus that encrypts its payload, making it hard to detect. Once the virus enters the user’s system, data and files can be encrypted so the user no longer has access to those files. They may become unreadable. The hacker’s goal is to access things that are likely most important to the user. After the attack, a hacker can gain access to other user’s data through the network and do the same thing.
Ransomware is an attack that encrypts a user’s information so that it can no longer be accessed by the user. A pair of keys are used to encrypt and decrypt a file. The attacker will ask that a fee be paid to retrieve a key to gain access to the data again. Most attacks come with a deadline in which the fee must be paid. However, this is tricky because without the key it is very difficult to decrypt files and there is no guarantee that your files will be decrypted even after you’ve paid the requested fee. A cycle is created because that money is used to make this threat even stronger.
Ransomware is very common and is commonly distributed through email.
For example, a user receives an email from an unknown source that contains an attachment or link. Once the user clicks on the attachment/link, malware is downloaded on their device, unbeknownst to the user. From there, the attacker can access files that are important to the user and hold them for ransom.
Decrypting files is not easy and since malware is always changing, it makes decrypting even harder. However, there are a few ways to help detect and avoid encryption attacks.
Always have a strong and reliable antivirus/malware software on a computer:
- Antivirus software keeps track of all files that enter a computer’s system. Scans are run to check for any malicious threats that could be within a system, including email. Antivirus software is a vital prevention measure that keeps files and data safe from harm. All software should be kept up to date.
2. Avoid suspicious emails at all costs:
- Phishing is a common vector for ransomware. Many users open emails and click on links without knowing the serious damage they are doing. Typically, users are aware of who they are receiving an email from, an attachment should never be opened from someone they aren’t expecting an email from. Avoiding these emails all together can be beneficial. Detecting these emails can be complicated at times, but there are always clues found in illegitimate emails. Refer to our blog to learn more about the ways to detect phishing emails.
3. Do not download applications that aren’t familiar:
- Just because an application is free does not mean it should be downloaded. Some applications are an instant link to malware. Never download applications from unknown sites. Use the web to do some thorough research on applications before they’re downloaded.
4. Have a backup plan in place:
- There should always be a backup of data available in case of an emergency. To avoid the hassle of not being able to access important files, backup files should be saved on an external hard drive or in the cloud. If you are faced with an attack, the computer can be wiped and the data can be reinstalled.
5. Do not use public networks:
- Public wi-fi networks are usually not secure. Installing a VPN will ensure of a more secure connection when browsing the web.