Ransomware – What is it? & How can you prevent it?

When you hear the word ransom, you automatically think of the normal definition - ‘a sum of money demanded or paid for the release of a captive.’

We are in a world, where none of us would think or expect for us to ever be in that position, that’s something for the movies you might say - that’ll never happen to me.
Unfortunately, everyone can be affected by ransomware, that is right, everyone. That means you.

'What is Ransomware?' you might ask -

Ransom - 'a sum of money demanded or paid for the release of a captive.'

Ware - 'A suffix that is short for software

Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts your access to your computer. Once ransomware has affected your computers you will find that it is locked down and you will not be able to access it. If you want your data back you will then be requested to pay money to get it back, you have to ask yourself - is your data really that precious?

Emails, contacts, accounts, HR, payroll, future plans - everything you use to run and expand your business tends to be on your computer or mobile device.

Ransomware.. Then

Ransomware started in 1989!

In 2013 Ransomware hit the world by storm. So many companies and important people were in a situation where they couldn’t access their computer.

Their data had now been held hostage, typically you will find that the hacker will completely encrypt your data and lock down your computer until you paid the fee.

Ransomware became such an easy way of extorting money out of innocent people that intelligence agencies such as the FBI have been trying to hunt down and catch these people. This has been happening all over the internet and hackers are very good at covering their tracks, meaning that 9/10 cases the hackers get away with your money without the guarantee of you getting back your data. Hackers are known to cover their tracks by performing crimes in different countries around the world, this is so that it makes them harder to trace and harder for a worldwide investigation to be held.

In many cases the hackers had already stolen your data meaning that they could just take your money themselves, keep your data and make your machine completely usable - that means that you are out of pocket with no reassurance that you are getting back your data or even access to your machine.

Ransomware.. Now

There is now a new form of ransomware known as the Jigsaw - yes JigSAW… If you have ever seen the SAW movies, you will know that there is a doll known as the Jigsaw who goes around giving people decisions under a strict time limit otherwise they or someone they love will die. The new ransomware known as Jigsaw is based on these popular horror movies.

The hacker will offer you a price and a time limit to purchase back your data.

If you do not pay within that set time (which tends to be an hour) they will delete the files listed, then move on to the next lot.

Not only can this take up a lot of your time, but you will lose money and files that you need.

The hackers tend to group the files that they put up for you to purchase back in a mixture so that you are more likely to have to purchase every group back as you do not want the important data deleted.

So, if you thought they would make it easy and group all the important stuff together, you have another thing coming.

How can you prevent ransomware?

There are many ways of preventing ransomware - here are a few

  • Back up your data - whether that is on a server, in the cloud, on an external hard drive
  • Use an anti virus
  • Use a mixture of passwords for different things, use upper and lower cases, numbers and symbols - you wouldn't leave your front door wide open while you were to go out? So why not protect your technology?
  • Always make sure your software is up to date
  • Look out for suspicious emails - if you don't recognise it, don't open the attachment

If you believe you have been hit by ransomware disconnect from your network immediately! Turn the Wi-Fi off or unplug the Ethernet cable, this can help prevent the ransomware from spreading.