With the rapid development of computer technology over the last two decades, nowadays people are more connected to each other than ever before. However, the dominant role of the Internet in most people’s everyday life brings not only joy for its users, but also a number of possible perils.Like software in general, the techniques of cyber attacks have also undergone a massive development and it is quite important for everyone to stay up to date with the various threats that lurk around in the Web. A typical type of cyber attack that gained popularity among ill-wishers in the last few years is the ransomware.
This type of malware can be seen as proof of how elaborate cyber attacks have become over the years. The procedure typically involves deploying malicious software on the victim’s machine which then locks all (or most) of the data, making the computer unusable.As the name suggests, a ransom is required from the victim in order for the computer to be unlocked again. Unfortunately, paying the money to the attacker is not a guarantee that the access to the data will be restored back to normal and many have been tricked by this method.
How Does It Work?
There are quite a few possibilities for an attacker to distribute the malicious content to the victim’s computer. One of the most heavily used ways is via emails. If the user is tricked into opening a malicious mail or downloads files from suspicious websites there is a high risk that some kind of malware would infest the hard drive.Exploiting holes in outdated software is another common attack vector, and something to be wary of. This can include browser plug-ins and other tools that might not immediately strike you as potentially dangerous, so make sure that you keep everything up to date, and don’t ignore those constant prompts that you get from the different programs on your computer.
Types of Ransomware
There are three main categories of this type of malware: Scareware, Screen Lockers, and Encrypting Ransomware.
Scareware is the least evil type of Ransomware there is. Normally, the victim is alerted by a pop-up window that shows upon starting on the machine, saying that the system is infested with a malware and it would not be removed unless a fee is paid. Typically, no other harm than the annoying message is done and no further alterations are made on the system.A Screen Locker takes things one step further, preventing the computer from being used until the ransom is paid. It can occasionally be circumvented by clever manipulation of the window overlaying the screen.
Encrypting ransomware is much scarier, and the main reason people should be wary. It will go through a victim’s hard drive, encrypting information with a key that can only be recovered by paying the attackers. This is a particularly devastating type of attack since it’s practically impossible to recover the data manually, unless the attackers have made a mistake that potentially exposes the keys they have been using. Otherwise, there’s nothing that can be done.