What is ransomware? Learn all about the threat and how to remove it – the clare people
Ransomware is a type of virtual attack in which a computer, when infected, has its data encrypted, preventing it from being accessed. In order to disclose the data, criminals usually demand a ransom or, in English,ransom. The practice is one of the main cybercrimes, especially after the changes brought about by the covid-pandemic.
The damage caused by a ransomware attack can have consequences beyond data loss. In recent times, criminals have targeted businesses and, when they carry out attacks, they demand ransoms from millionaires, which can often complicate the overall bottom line of the business.
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There are different types of ransomware, from those that can be uninstalled with just a few clicks to those that are extremely complex and complicated to be. deleted. Moreover, if a computer is infected, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to fix the problem, such as a decryption tool that works on all types of viruses. Therefore, to prevent you or your computer from being the target of such a scam, it is good to be informed about the virus.
The first step in being able to prevent a virtual kidnapping attack is knowing how to detect it. The earlier the threat is detected, the easier it will be to fight the infection. There are several signs to identify the crime before it’s too late, and we list them below:
Keep an eye out for virus alarms
If your device has an antivirus program, there is a good chance that it will identify the ransomware before the computer gets infected. Be careful, however, some attacks can deceive scanners.
Antivirus is important mainly because it can identify the exact name of the malware that is trying to infect the machine multiple times. Usually, after executing the ransomware, the virus that brought it to the computer gets deleted, making identification impossible and complicating the solution of the problem.
Check the file extension and name Files whose extension has been changed may indicate a ransomware attack. (Image: Reproduction / InfoBusiness Informatics)
An image file will always have “.jpg” or “.png” extensions, right? If you identify a file extension change in another string of letters, it is highly possible that your machine is undergoing a virtual hacking attack.
The same care must be taken with documents which, appearing out of nowhere, have changed their name. Ransomware attacks often change the names of infected files, so keep an eye out for those details.
Check for increased CPU and disk activity.
Increasing disk or processor activity to above normal values ââmay indicate that something in the background is changing both components. Check this information often because ransomware when data encryption increases CPU and disk usage.
Keep an eye out for questionable network communications
Did an alert appear in your operating system or anti-virus program indicating that the machine is making suspicious network communication? This is another warning because the malware’s interaction with the attacker’s server can cause this notification to appear.
I suffered a ransomware attack, what now?
Ransomware ransomware attack example. (Image: Reproduction / Avast)
If other signs are not identified, the invasion is likely to be successful. A final sign, although a late one, is the appearance of encrypted files on the computer, which cannot be opened. Finally, a window will open on the screen, with a ransom note, confirming that the device is under ransomware attack. However, there are ways to try to get rid of the virus.
Ransomware generally comes in two variants: blocking and encryption. The first one locks the whole screen, while the second one still allows you to play with your computer, but the files cannot be opened because they are locked.
In either case, there are general options to get rid of the attack:
- Pay the ransom and wait for cybercriminals to keep their word and decrypt the data;
- Try to remove the malware using the tools available;
- Restore the computer to factory settings.
If you choose to remove the malware using the tools available, the process is not really that simple, but neither is it impossible.
In case the attack was carried out with screen lock ransomware, the first challenge is to be able to access the security software of the machine. One possible solution in this case is to start the computer in safe mode. In this mode, the malware responsible for the screen lock may not be loaded, as it is not a function required for the basic operation of the device. If safe mode works, just run the antivirus program to fight the plague.
Now, if the scenario is a cryptographic ransomware attack, the process has more variables. As stated earlier in the article, early identification of a possible virus attack on the computer has changed a lot in dealing with it. But if the malware is not detected early, in some cases there may be no way to recover the encrypted data.
If the ransomware is detected before the ransom note occurs, you have time to stop the infection. Data that has been encrypted so far will remain locked, but nothing else will be affected. Another important point to detect the attack as early as possible is that the malware cannot spread to other devices and files.
Another way to stay safe in the event of an encryption attack is to keep a backup of all your data, whether it’s on a physical drive or cloud storage. If ransomware infection occurs on your machine, you can simply bypass the ransom and restore your computer to factory settings. Your data will stay safe thanks to the backup.
In the event that the attack was not detected early and there was no data backup, what to do? You can ask the company responsible for your antivirus for help and you can check if there is already a decryption tool for the ransomware that has infected your machine. As a last option, if all the others have failed, there is a ransom payment.
To pay or not to pay the ransom?
(Image: Reproduction / DSI)
After all options are exhausted, paying ransom for criminals may start to look like a good option, but just like in a real hostage situation, no deal policy is the best option. In general, it is not recommended to pay the fees demanded by criminals in case of ransomware, as there is no guarantee that the attackers will actually keep their promise to disclose the data. In addition, the law can encourage this type of crime, which should be avoided as much as possible.
However, if the intention to pay the ransom really exists, it is important that you do not remove the ransomware from the computer, because in many variants of virtual hacking, malware is the only program capable of applying the code to. decryption to files. Deletion after paying the fee but before decrypting the documents can render the code, acquired at a high price, unnecessary, resulting in total loss of data and money.
If the virus has still not been removed, but the decryption key has arrived, free the files first and then delete the virus, as there is no reason to keep the malware on your machine anymore.
Regardless of all these steps, it is clear that the ransomware is a real virtual danger, and one of the most intense. If you find yourself the victim of such an attack, the support of the company responsible for your antivirus as well as the taking into account of the steps explained throughout this text can help you not to have as much damage. However, even following all the advice in this text, do not consider yourself invincible; anyone is under a virtual kidnapping attack.
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