What is it?
Ransomware is a form of malware that restricts access to the computer system that it infects and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed. Some forms of ransomware encrypt files on the system’s hard drive, while some may simply lock the system and display messages prompting the user to pay. For example, some ransomware pretends to be from a legitimate government organization that states that the infected computer is sending out SPAM that contains links to illegal sites. The ransom program then states that in order protect the user, and others, it has encrypted the user’s data using Advanced Encryption Standards, or AES, encryption. These files are not actually encrypted but are password protected RAR files. The hackers then require you to send them a large sum of money in order to get the password for your files.
How can you avoid it?
Obey the #1 rule of online safety:
Be careful. Don’t click on links in emails or on websites that are unfamiliar to you or from people or sources you don’t know. Also, always ensure that your anti-virus and anti-malware applications are up-to-date.
What can you do to protect yourself?
In a word: BACKUP. It is crucial to make sure you have either a physical backup (external hard drive, CD/DVD media, etc) or an online backup such as MCW Backup – in place, updated, and completed. This will ensure that you have an untouched (unaffected by the malware’s encryption) copy of your sensitive data.