With the new pandemic hitting the world, companies and organizations have been forced to rethink and adopt new ways of doing business. Working from home has been embraced to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. This way, many companies have been forced to rely on the internet for their daily use to send and receive information. Cybercriminals have capitalized on the opportunity of sending malware to unsuspecting users for profit.
Ransomware is a type of software that encrypts data files or a victim’s computer system and denies them access to their files. The criminals force the victims to pay a certain amount of money to regain access to the files or system.
How the malware Works
There are several ways that this malicious software is introduced to your computer. One of the most common ways is through email phishing. The attacker disguises as a legitimate entity and sends a corrupt attachment to the victim via email.
Once the victim opens the file, the attacker gains access to information and shuts out the user. The attacker extracts vital information and encrypts it using sophisticated mathematical algorithms and then informs the victim that he is in control. The hacker demands pay to restore access to the files or system. The preferred method of payment is usually a cryptocurrency, as it is untraceable.
Another way in which the software may be introduced to your device is through malvertising. Generally, malvertising uses devious codes to redirect users to malicious websites when visiting legitimate websites without even clicking on an advertisement.
How to defeat a Ransomware
i. Use a decrypt tool
If you do not have a backup, use malware decryption tools from credible sources such as the nomoreransom.org. A decrypt tool uses reverse engineering to check for loopholes in the encryption codes that can be used to restore the information to its original form.
ii. Screen Email Attachments and Links
Screening emails and links give you the power to decide who sends you links or emails and if you would like to receive more emails from them. This practice ensures that all incoming emails are scanned for malware and discard any malicious malware. Turn off the option for automatic download of attachments in your email.
iii. Install Softwares
An antivirus program detects, prevents, and cripples malware from your device and system. Antivirus software enables you to limit the exposure of vulnerabilities that attackers use to infiltrate your system.
iv. How to Prevent a Ransomware Attack
Security gaps in the system make it easier for hackers and malicious people to access your information. Sometimes, it may not be possible to cover all the loopholes. However, it is important to put up measures to protect your systems and make data recovery possible if there is an attack.
v. Backup your Data
During an Attack, it is almost impossible to recover data. Having a backup
will help you access the lost data. The most effective way of backing up your data is using the 3-2-1 rule. Save three copies of your data in a device.
Further, save another two copies of the same data in two different devices or storage systems and finally save a copy in the offline system. Having the 3-2-1 strategy as your backup spreads the risk and reduces the chances of losing all your data at a go.
vi. Conduct Regular Security Patch
Patching is a practice that involves changing the settings of a computer to fix a problem, improve or update its functionality. To prevent this malicious software, applying patches regularly will be a necessary measure. Patches identify the weaknesses in a system and rectify the weaknesses such that the hacker’s attempt to exploit the vulnerability will be unsuccessful.
vii. Use Trustworthy VPNs
Usually, the internet used in work environments is secured with VPNs. However, there are times when accessing the online platforms may be hard, and circumstances force us to use a public wireless fidelity. Such may expose us and put our data at risk of being accessed over the net by unauthorized persons.
If you are not sure of an internet system’s security, use a virtual private network. With a VPN, you do not have to be worried about issues of data theft or exposure. It enables people to share and receive files over long periods of time securely.
viii. Avoid using unfamiliar media
Resist the need to connect unknown devices to your computer or other devices that may contain important information. Such devices include USB drives and CDs that do not belong to an organization or an individual. These devices may contain malware, which may be transferred to your files, especially if the files are not secured.
ix. Utilize the Show File Extension
Cybercriminals take advantage of hidden extensions to send in a file that is executable but also malicious. Windows has a feature that allows the user to show this feature. Viewing the information helps the user see what type of file is downloaded, thus avoiding being a victim.. Also, check out for those that have two or more extensions as this may be a trap.
x. Educate Staff and Users
One way of ensuring that hackers do not get to you is by educating your staff members or your systems’ users. Inform them about the malware and how malicious people operate, and their responsibility to ensure that the systems and data are safe. That way, they can identify malicious programs and avoid or fight the problem before it is too late.
Best Practices to Defeat the malicious software
• Once you detect that the software has infected your device or system, the first thing is to shut down and disconnect your computer from the system to prevent the malware’s further spread to your network.
• Use updated software to remove the malware.
• Having a backup of vital files in an external drive to ensure normal resumption once the malware has been cleaned from your device or system.
• Use cloud services to back up your files since you can access them easily and fast if you do not have immediate access to your external drive.