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What is Ransomware? 

Ransomware is a certain type of malicious software that is specifically designed to target someone for financial gain. It will disable a company or individual’s computer system and demand the user(s) to pay a ransom demand in order to regain access to computers and its files.

Even if the hacker promises to disable the Ransomware upon payment, it is not guaranteed that they will remove the malware on infected machines and networks. At a later stage, these programs can be re-activated to demand more money and/or delete important information from the computer system, even after receiving payment.

Different kinds of Ransomware

Common types of Ransomware include encryption and locker software. This is where a hacker will gain access to files and encrypt them, restricting access to the owner. They can also choose to lock a device and demand payment, where a user is unable to use any functions or access system files until the virus is removed or money is paid to the hacker.

Mostly hidden in Trojan viruses, the ‘Reveton Ransomware’ spreads quickly to many people’s computers. This Ransomware manifests immediately after the infected device is booted. A screen will cover the whole of the user’s desktop claiming that the police have been notified that the computer has been used to download illegal documents and images such as unlicensed software or child pornography, putting the user into a state of fear instantly. This screen will let them pay to gain access to their computer again if they use an anonymous payment system (so scammers cannot be traced).

How to prevent Ransomware

You will more than likely receive these kinds of Ransomware attacks if a virus has successfully been downloaded to your computer with the malicious software activated. Never open an attachment you are unsure of from an unsolicited email. Some of the warning signs to look out for are:

  • Spelling and grammar – In most cases these Ransomware viruses have been distributed internationally and have spread in such a way that the language native to your won’t make sense. If it doesn’t make sense, delete the email immediately and don’t open any attachments.
  • Layout and design of the email – Legitimate emails from an entity such as a company will have a pre-set layout with legal disclaimers in the footer. If something looks unclear or there are no specific details to suggest this is what you usually might see from a bank or organization, delete the email.
  • Check the sender’s e-mail address – If you believe that it could be a scam email, check the sender’s email address because in most cases, if it is a scam, it won’t align with the email they have sent you and could just be an assortment of numbers and letters. If the address looks illegitimate, delete the email and don’t click or respond to anything.
  • Relevance – If they are claiming there is something wrong in a situation that requires you to open an attachment, question this straight away. Question all of the email’s content, for example if it were a fake bank email, your bank would never email you asking for details, and do they have any part of the email specific to your identity to suggest that this email is intended solely for you?

How to protect yourself against Ransomware

There are some very simple ways to protect yourself from Ransomware, these include:

  • Virus protection software (free or paid) – Having software that scans your activity on your computer and what has been downloaded onto your hard drive is a must. Ensure that scans are done on a regular basis to get the best protection possible.
  • Be careful about websites you visit – Some websites can harbor all kinds of viruses or downloads, and sometimes scammers will target illegal music or movie download sites and hide the malicious content within the download files displayed.
  • Internet browser choice and computer configuration – Some internet browsers offer different levels of security than others, so it is worthwhile investigating which is more preferable to you in terms of protection. Also ensure that your computer’s firewall is enabled and that you have any virus protection software actively protecting your system.