Ransomware: From Russia With Love

Over the next few weeks leading up to Infosecurity Europe 2016 we will be posting a series of blogs relating to specific cyber security issues at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year.

No matter how hard you try to avoid them, trends are a fact of life. Whether it’s in fashion, music or diets, trends make a mark on the world. They exist in the malware sphere too, and more recently the latest trend has been ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malware which takes your device hostage, restricting your access and demands you to pay a ransom to the infectors to remove the restriction.

While initially an obscure form of malware in the western world, though hugely popular in Russia, the profile of ransomware has grown in recent years through a series of high profile cases which have demonstrated the supreme damage that malware can cause to organisations.

Examples of some of these high profile attacks that have taken place just this year include infections to computers in Lincolnshire County CouncilHospitals across the US and Canada, and Transmission users on Macs.

How does a malware so crippling spread on such a large scale?

Ransomware enters a system through downloaded files or a system vulnerability. From this, the malware encrypts the device restricting access to the user and demands for a ransom to be paid in order to return access.

When it comes to personal devices, the malware will sometimes use scare tactics to frighten and manipulate the user to hand over money. Sometimes, these threats can be delivered in the form of a police or FBI landing page stating the illegal operations that the user has supposedly partaken in.

Obviously, the hackers who produce this type of malware are motivated by profit, but the reasons why they target specific people and organisations are much harder to analyse. However, when it comes to the reasons why they are infected, the same mistakes are made again and again. A lack of training in cyber security is detrimental to the safety of the information an organisation or person possesses.

 

How do I protect myself from ransomware?

While ransomware might seem terrifying, if you follow Bob’s Tips your system should be safe from this malware.

  • Never download files from sites you don’t trust
  • Backup your data at least once a day, meaning that no data can be loss. Make sure that this backup is not connected to the system as ransomware can encrypt your backup too.
  • Make sure your anti-virus software and firewall is up-to-date.
  • Be careful of attachments you receive and only open those you trust.
  • Report any suspicious looking software to your IT department immediately.
  • If you are infected, do not pay the ransom! Wipe the disk drive clean and restore your backed up data.

For more info on viruses and to see what Bob teaches in the Virus Vigilance module, get in touch or try our demo for free here:

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