What is a Ransomware — and how to protect yourself

Yesterday, a malicious software known as WannaCry was used in a global cyberattack. It is reported that WannaCry ransomware attack affected approximately 200,000 computers in at least 99 countries. Affecting major organizations like NHS in the UK, Telefonica in Spain, and FedEx in the US. You can read about WannaCry attack in the news or Wikipedia. The type of malware used in this attack is known as a ransomware.

What is a Ransomware:

A ransomware is a type of a malware program that blocks access to a device until a demand (ransom) is paid. A malware or “malicious software” is any program that is meant to damage, steal, disrupt and carry out any illegitimate action on devices, networks, or data.

Basically, ransomware blocks and hijack your data, device or network until a request made by the hijacker(s) is met. In most cases, the hijacker(s) make monetary demands.

How does Ransomware work:

First, the attacker needs access to your data, device or network. Some of the common ways of getting access is by exploiting an existing vulnerability (like devices and software that weren’t updated) or by implementing other

forms of gaining access (like phishing attacks, thumb drive drop tactics, malvertising etc.)

After gaining access, the attacker then locks and encrypts your device in a way that you cannot access your data anymore. The attacker makes a demand while holding your data to ransom.

How to prevent Ransomware:

Some steps you should take to protect yourself against ransomware are:

  • Always update your devices and software.
  • Install, use and update anti-malware.
  • Backup! Backup!! Backup!!! — One of the most important ways of overcoming ransomware attacks is to ensure you have a backup copy of your important files.
  • Avoid clicking on links and opening email attachment from untrusted sources.
  • Use a pop-up blocker.
  • Be careful of phishing attacks

There are a lot of articles explaining what ransomware is, and how to protect yourself; read digital trends, watch this video and also this video.