Ransomware: How It Works and How To Prevent It
Our Saskatoon IT Tips are from the Trusted professionals at Burnt Orange Solutions. We promise to have a one-hour response time for all your Saskatoon IT support needs. Honesty and respect are important to us. In our latest IT Expert tip Article, Gareth shares how ransomware works and how to prevent it.
Ransomware is a form of malware or malicious software that encrypts files. During a ransomware attack, the attacker or cybercriminal demands a ransom (payment) from the victim to restore access to the files. Ransom costs can be thousands of dollars and are payable to cybercriminals in the form of Bitcoin.
How Ransomware Works
In order to protect your computer system from attack, it is important to understand how ransomware works. Ransomware can access a computer system in different ways. The most common way is through phishing spam, whereby attachments arrive to the victim via email disguised as a file they should trust. Once the file has been downloaded and opened, the cybercriminal has access to the victim’s computer. Often the cybercriminal or attacker will have built-in tools that trick victims into allowing them administrative access. Aside from phishing, more aggressive forms of ransomware exist that exploit computer systems without tricking the victim.
Once ransomware has taken over the victim’s computer system, the next step is to encrypt the files. In the event that files are encrypted, the only way to decrypt the files is through a mathematical key that is known by the attacker. Following encryption, the victim receives a message that dictates their files have been compromised. As a result, files are accessible only once payment is made through Bitcoin.
In order to gain the victim’s trust, the ransomware attacker may claim to be a law enforcement agency. For example, the attacker may inform the victim that their computer system is being shut down due to the presence of pirated software. In this instance, the payment is demanded in the form of a ‘fine’. For this reason, this type of trick is often successful. This is due to the fact that the victim is unlikely to report the ransomware attack.
How To Prevent Ransomware
Luckily, there are proactive strategies to take to prevent ransomware attacks. The following tips will improve your defense against ransomware:
- Keep your operating system up to date. An up-to-date operating system ensures you are less vulnerable to exploitation.
- Do not install software unless you are aware of exactly what it is, where it came from, and what it does.
- Antivirus software is crucial to detect ransomware. Whitelisting software is also necessary to prevent unauthorized applications from entering your system.
- Be sure to back up your files frequently, which can often be done automatically. Though this will not halt a ransomware attack, it may reduce the damage it causes.
If you have any questions regarding ransomware or how to prevent it, contact the IT experts at Burnt Orange IT Solutions. We can help your business mitigate risk, and be prepared for any IT-related emergency.
We hope this article gave you some insight. If you want to ensure your business’s IT security, contact the Trusted Saskatoon IT professionals at Burnt Orange Solutions and we can take IT worries off your plate.
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