Ransomware – One of the Biggest IT Threats

Ransomware is a malware attack involving an attacker locking and encrypting a victim’s data and essential files and demanding ransom payment before decrypting and releasing the data. Ransomware is prevalent today; cyber-attackers continue to devise very cunning ways of launching an attack.

Most times, a cyber-attacker will look for a vulnerable spot within your browsing devices so that they can steal information. One particular element a hacker will use to attack you is your IP address. An IP address is a distinctive string of elements that recognizes every computer utilizing the Internet Protocol to convey information over a network. It also identifies one’s address.   

Locating IP addresses is very easy, be it through a phone or computer. If you are using a computer, click Start, then go to settings. From there, you go to network and internet, then to Ethernet. Under properties, here you can check the IP address listed close to IPv4 address. If you are using your phone, go to settings, select ‘About device,’ and tap on status. Here you will find your IP address. You can also change your IP even on phone just by using Chrome VPN. It can be very helpful when you do not want to be tracked.

Ransomware takes advantage of a small vulnerability point in humans, systems, networks, and software to get into a victim’s internet access device like a computer, phone, wearables, printers, and point-of-sale points. There are over a thousand ransomware malware globally. Common examples include WannaCry, Cerber, Locky, Cryptolocker, Ryuk, and GrandCrab.  

RANSOMWARE DISTRIBUTION METHODS

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Ransomware infects your device once you click an infected link, visit an unsafe page, or install a program, file, or application containing a malicious code, set to secretly download ransomware and install it into your device. 

Some of the typical distribution techniques include the following. 

  • Phishing email: Involves clicking on a link attached to an email, which redirects you to a malicious page.
  • Email attachments: That involves opening an attachment sent to your mail and enabling malicious macros, downloading a RAT inserted document, or downloading into your device a zip file consisting of malicious JavaScript.
  • Malvertising: That’s an internet user clicks on a genuine advertising page filled with malicious codes. 
  • Social Media: That is where you click on a vicious link on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media posts. 
  • Traffic Distribution System: That is where an attacker uses a legitimate gateway to redirect you to a nasty page.  
  • Self-propagation: Entails distributing malicious codes to your other devices via USB drives and networks.
  • Infected programs: That is where an internet user installs an application or program consisting of malicious code.
  • Drive-by infections: That involves checking in on insecure, suspicious, or bogus pages online. 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM RANSOMWARE

Given that you are familiar with the ransomware distribution techniques, what steps can you take to protect yourself from falling victim? Below are some ways to protect yourself from a ransomware attack.

  • Regular data backup

Data backup is the best way to protect yourself from a ransomware attack. Ensure you have copies of your most important data by copying them into the cloud or an external hard drive. That way, if you fall victim to a ransomware attack, you just clean up your computer or phone and re-install your data from the cloud into your computer. Also, that protects you from paying any ransom.  

  •  Install a security software

Modern security solutions, including antiviruses, can identify and block a security threat from gaining access to your devices. Antiviruses are numerous online and can either be free or paid. Free antivirus solutions do not give maximum protection as paid antivirus solutions do. Hence, you should go for the paid antivirus. The free antiviruses are sometimes loaded with viruses, making the paid versions the best.

  • Avoid suspicious websites

You can always tell a suspicious website from the genuine one. If you click on a certain banner and a website immediately pops up asking you to download something, quickly close the page as that signifies a malware or other virus infection attempt. Avoid such websites by all means.  

  • Regular or continuous update of your software

You should regularly update your devices to prevent creating vulnerable spots for malware to access and encrypt your critical data. Update your software, especially the antivirus software, to ensure maximum protection. Turn on automatic updates and continually check for updates for applications that cannot update automatically.

  • Practice caution with messages

Infected websites plus email attachments are common hiding spots for malware. Hence, handle all emails and messages that hit your mailbox unexpectedly with caution. Always be sure of the sender, configure spam filtering, plus mail traffic scanning in your safety solution.

CONCLUSION

Ransomware attacks are more common nowadays, requiring increased protection to guard oneself against suffering an attack. Stay knowledgeable of ransomware distribution methods and protect yourself accordingly.