What is ransomware?
“Ransomware” has quickly become one of the most pervasive
cyber risks affecting single user systems to multi-user networks. While there are several versions of the
threat, there are many common themes.
Unlike other types of viruses that may go undetected by the
user, ransomware is readily apparent. Once affected, a computer becomes
inoperable or data inaccessible. The virus may either disable the computer or encrypt
the hard drive, specific data or the drive and backup systems.
A warning appears on the screen that states that in
exchange for a payment, usually in digital currency such as Bitcoin, the
computer or data will be released. The ransom demanded ranges from $150 to
hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending upon the type of virus, the target
affected and likelihood of payment.
the message accuses the user of downloading illegal or embarrassing content
that frightens users to comply with the hackers’ demands without notifying law
enforcement. For instance, a common ransomware message appears to come from the
FBI and claims that the user is under investigation for downloading child
pornography or copyrighted content, such as movies or video games.
Be vigilant about cyber
The most up-to-date security cannot protect us
if we engage in unsafe online behavior. Practice cyber vigilance by:
- Remaining security conscious when reading and
responding to email. Don’t click on links before you copy them and google them.
Most of the time, if the link is known to spread malware, you will receive a
wealth of responses documenting the dangers of clicking on the link.
- Not downloading documents—especially word
documents or pdfs—that may be suspect. If you’re not expecting a document,
don’t download it without investigating it first. For example, if you receive an
email that says your item has shipped, but you didn’t order anything recently,
don’t click on the link or download the attachment. If you receive an
attachment from someone and the email doesn’t contain other text, that is suspicious.
If you receive a document, pdf or file from someone you don’t normally receive
material from, investigate before downloading or opening the file.
a look at the source of the email—even if the email is from someone you
normally converse with, take a look at the extension to the email and the
address itself. Many times, hackers change one letter or substitute a number
for a letter in an email address in an effort to exploit our tendency to trust
the source and gloss over details.