Beware Ransomware

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that is designed to disrupt or damage a computer, laptop or mobile device until a sum of money is paid to the cybercriminals behind it, to fix it. It’s one of the fastest growing forms of computer virus, mainly affecting individuals and small businesses.

How does it get on to your computer system?

Ransomware usually finds its way on to your device through security holes in vulnerable, unprotected software, or by tricking you in to installing it by sending you fake and convincing emails (aka phishing).

What does it do?

Once on your computer, it typically encrypts your data or files in such a way that prevents you from accessing the device or data by making them completely unreadable and basically useless or even worse deleting them completely.

Once the data on the infected machine is encrypted, the victim is told that unless they pay a certain amount, they will not be able to get their data back.

Can it be reversed?

Ransomware usually display a message on your damaged computer along the lines of pay us a fee and we’ll send you the key to unencrypt your data. There is no guarantee that they’ll do this, and nothing to stop them doing it again. It’s common that they hide the malicious software in restored files and encrypt them again a few months down the line. Very frustrating, and costly!

What to do if your device is infected

Disconnect your computer from the network and locate the TXT or HTML file with the payment instructions, for example “How to decrypt” shared folders / drives encrypted.

Files are usually encrypted with a public key and can’t be decrypted without it. With current ransomware, the private key is never located on the affected workstation. This means that data will need to be restored from a good backup that was made prior to receiving the infection.

How can you prevent infections?

Although sophisticated, there are ways to protect your device from getting infected.

  1. Do not open attachments claiming to be a fax, invoice or receipt if they have a suspicious name or you did not expect to receive them.
  2. Scan all emails and web downloads with an Anti-Virus package – this will make sure that the initial infection has a lower chance of entering the network as it is identified and stopped.
  3. Block user access to malicious or vulnerable websites – ransomware not only enters the network via email, but also via malicious and vulnerable websites. These can be websites that you trust and use regularly. The ability to prevent user access to trustworthy, but vulnerable websites as well as dangerous and malicious websites lowers the risk of ransomware infection.

How can Smart Computers help?

There are a number of ways Smart Computers can assist you or your business.

  • Remote support – with Smart Support, we are at the end of the phone when you need us, acting like your personal helpdesk, giving you advice and guidance to resolve issues
  • 24/7 proactive monitoring – using our Smart Max service, we can detect warning signs of potential problems, proactively, before you are even aware of them. Monitoring hacker alerts and unauthorised log ins
  • ESET Anti-Virus partner – at Smart, we are partners of ESET Anti-Virus. If you purchase this software through us, we will keep the anti-virus software updated and make recommendations to keep you secure

About ESET Anti-Virus

The latest versions of ESET use advanced technology to protect computers from ransomware. The software combines several detection methods to remove a wide range of malware. This antivirus software is extremely effective at preventing attacks on your computer.

Try out the Smart 30-day free ESET trial…