Since the dawn of the internet, cyber security has been a major concern.
The attacks have changed over the years, but the same problems still exist. Hackers want your data and you’d like to remain safe while enjoying all the benefits the internet has to offer.
But everytime developers and IT security pros solve a security issue, new ones emerge.
One of the latest and most common internet security threats is ransomware. Ransomware is easy for hackers to implement and tough for you to defend against.
Whether you’re a casual PC user or are about to set up your own network, you need to understand ransomware.
So what exactly is ransomware?
Let’s take a closer look at how ransomware works.
How ransomware works its way into your home
Like many malware issues, ransomware issues typically begin with an email.
A user will receive an email that looks like it’s from a legitimate source. In the email, they’re directed to a link. Once the link is clicked, the user is taken to a malicious website and it’s all downhill from there.
Ransomware can be found in malicious links online as well, so be careful what you click.
What happens next
Once you’ve clicked a link in an email or online that introduces ransomware to your computer, an exploitative kit begins to look for vulnerabilities on your machine.
Once the ransomware finds its way in, it encrypts the files on your computer and sends an encryption key back to the creator of the ransomware. By encrypting your files, the ransomware effectively locks down your computer, preventing you from using it.
A computer that has ben infected with ransomware is only accessible by someone with the encryption key.
How ransomware got its name
The next step is where the “ransom” in ransomware comes from.
Once a hacker has locked down your system, they will then ask you to pay a ransom to regain access.
The ransom message typically comes in the form of a popup on your screen.
Why ransomware is so effective
Ransomware is so effective because it plays to one of our most basic (and exploitable) emotions: fear.
No one wants to lose their data. Whether it’s personal or work-related, losing your data or the use of a computer is not an ideal situation.
Most users–whether they’re individuals or large organizations–are going to relent to the hacker’s demands. And that’s exactly what they’re counting on.
It doesn’t end there …
Sadly, even if you’re able to ransom your computer back from the attacker, they will often then install more malicious code onto your PC.
Once they’ve collected their ransom many hackers will then use the opportunity to infect your computer with additional spyware to capture your credentials, financial information, or other sensitive information.
Are you safe from ransomware?
Now that you understand how ransomware works, do you think you’re safe?
The simplest step you can take to protect yourself and your network from ransomware are to simply exercise common sense. Check the source of any suspicious emails before opening and be cautious when clicking on unknown links online.