Ransomware is a piece of software, often referred to as malware, it is usually installed on a computer, tablet or mobile phone without device owners’ knowledge. The intention of ransomware is to hold the affected computer or its contents for ransom. Hence comes the name – ransomware.
Typically the software is installed and the next time the user reboots or after a specific amount of time, a dialogue will come up informing the user that their computer is being held for ransom. The ransom is typically money, usually in the form of bitcoin currency as it is harder to track than credit cards. Once the user follows the instructions and sends the ransom to the person who controls the ransomware, they will then receive a code or password to unlock their computer.
The Types of Ransomware
There are typically two types of ransomware, the first type simply locks the computer, either during boot up or after Microsoft Windows starts. This type is easier to deal with and no where near as sophisticated as the second type of ransomware. You can usually have a professional remove this type of ransomware fairly easy.
The second type of ransomware is much more devious and far harder to get rid of. It actually encrypts your hard drive, or certain files on your hard drive that it deems could be of value. If it does not encrypt the entire hard drive, this type of ransomware still allows you computer to function. When trying to access the encrypted files, such as word processing documents or spreadsheets, you will find that your applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel can’t read them. This type of ransomware is called a cryptovirology attack.
It’s Been Around For A While
Ransomware has been around since about 1989 and used to be passed around on floppy disks. So this is not a new technology, but was pretty basic back then. It has grown in its sophistication over time. With computers constantly connected to the internet, it has become easier for this kind of malware to find victims. It has also become easier to encrypt the files and decrypt them remotely for the attacker. Which means harder to track the attacker and prosecute them.
If you suspect that your computer has been affected by ransomware, then shut down your computer immediately and have a professional look at it for you. There’re chances that your files or hard drive can be decrypted.
Be careful with the source when you download software, if you are not sure, consult a professional. There are many malicious software online, masked or bonded with legitimate software, they trick people to download. When you install them, ransomware/malware are installed without your knowing.
Have an anti-ransomware/spyware/malware/virus application run on your computer. Windows 7/8/10 have this built-in, Defender, which usually suffices; there are some third party alternatives on market. If your computer runs other Operating System, consult a professional.