Ransomware poses a threat to many organizations, companies, and even individuals. Recently, ransomware viruses attacks have caused massive damage to some large companies and even critical infrastructures of some country systems.
At the beginning of last July, 1,500 companies were severely affected by the ransomware attack, which is the largest ransomware attack ever recorded. The American IT software company called Kaseya was hacked by a ransom virus that demanded a ransom of $70 million in bitcoin, which has harmed many companies in many countries. Learning about ransomware viruses and knowing how to deal with them and protecting our devices from them is very important nowadays.
What is a ransomware viruses?
It is a malicious program that enters your computer system through gaps in it, and a screen appears with a descending clock that shows you that some files have been encrypted, and to recover your files you must pay a ransom to retrieve your files, usually in Bitcoin. Ransomware viruses attack target people and organizations, but it is often large companies and organizations that are preferred by ransomware, not people.
How to get infected with ransomware?
There are many ways to get infected with the ransom virus, the most important of which are through emails that contain many infected media, as well as may contain links to sites that download the malware file when opened. The ransomware viruses are also spread via advertisements targeting to deceive the user by means of so-called social engineering. As well as when downloading applications from unreliable sources.
Types of ransomware
The ransomware viruses have many types, some of which encrypt your files, and some of them disable your entire computer system and prevent you from accessing your files without encrypting them, and the most prominent types of ransomware are:
1. Cerber ransomware virus
This type of ransomware appeared around 2016 and is considered one of the most dangerous ransomware as its encryption is compatible with 12 different languages. It was also responsible for 26% of all ransomware viruses infections at the beginning of 2017, and the developers of this malware were releasing weekly updates which kept it going for a long time. You can tell that your device is infected with cerber ransomware by the screenshot as the screenshot looks like your desktop background. To remove cerber from your device, you must rebuild your operating system from a backup.
2. Locky ransomware virus
It is one of the most dangerous types of ransomware viruses. This type of virus appeared in 2016 through an attack that encrypted 160 files and more. The locky virus spreads through fraudulent emails that appear in the form of an invoice, and when opened, it asks the user to give some permissions to view the invoice, and then the ransom virus encrypts the device’s data and then asks for a ransom in exchange for decrypting its files. To be able to access and restore your data without paying the ransom is only possible if you have a backup copy of your data.
3. CryLocker Ransomware virus
This virus first appeared in 2013 and is one of the most dangerous ransomware viruses. It encrypts all data on the computer and then shuts down the device, blocks access to files, and asks for ransom within 24 hours. Nearly 3 million dollars were stolen in one year by the CryLocker ransomware, which made it one of the most dangerous types of ransomware viruses.
4. Jigsaw ransomware virus
This virus appeared in 2016, and Jigsaw encrypts the data on the computer and then starts after descending to delete one of the files on the computer every hour. Over time, if the ransom is not paid within the specified time, it deletes more files.
5. Scareware ransomware virus
This virus uses fraud to deceive the user as it appears in the form of warnings from anti-virus sites alerting the user that his computer has been infected with viruses to make the user visit these harmful sites thinking that his device is actually infected and this site will save him. But they will demand a ransom from him in exchange for getting rid of malware and anti-damage on his device.
6. Doxware ransomware virus
Doxware differs in the way it demands the ransom in that it blackmails the victim by publishing their sensitive data if the ransom is not paid. This virus reaches the user’s device via emails connected to malicious websites.
7. Mac Ransomware
This virus appeared in 2016, and the Mac ransomware viruses began attacking and infecting Mac devices from Apple, and it can access devices through malicious links via email and by downloading applications from unknown destinations.
What are the damages of Ransomware?
Ransomware attacks are one of the serious problems facing cybersecurity at the present time due to the damage it poses, it’s not a threat only to people but also to companies and large institutions associated with the country’s economy or the global economy, such as banks. people are not a significant target of ransomware viruses attacks, like the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017, which shut down government systems, transportation, telecom companies, universities, etc., which affected 200,000 victims in 150 countries. Among the main damages of the ransomware virus:
- Common damage caused by ransomware viruses attacks is the loss of files and all user data.
- If the victim is an organization or company, it will face its first loss due to business interruption. As for the other losses, they will depend on the way the institution deals with the virus attack and the time it takes to confront and get rid of the threat.
- The ransomware virus penetrates all parts of the computer infected with the malware and the entire device must be replaced. And the damage will be greater if it is an organization or a company, then all devices that are vulnerable to being hacked from the ransomware should be replaced.
- When a company or organization is hacked by the ransom virus, it means that its security is weak and unreliable because it is vulnerable to penetration, and this harms the company’s reputation a lot and may cause it to be closed.
- If you want to recover your data, the ransom must be paid or the files must be decrypted by specialists, both of which require large sums of money.
- After successfully confronting the ransomware viruses and getting rid of it, it is necessary to put in place stronger and better security measures than before to ensure that the malware attacks does not return again, and this requires paying new costs as well.
How to protect your device from ransomware?
Devices get infected with ransomware viruses attack in many ways, which means that there is no single method that guarantees absolute protection from ransomware, but there are some methods that reduce the risk of getting infected with ransomware and they are good security defenses that you can follow:
- Avoid downloading apps from untrusted sources because this is one of the most important ways ransomware programmers use to gain access to a user’s system. Ensure that the website you are visiting uses the HTTPS protocol.
- Be careful when opening emails of unknown origin, especially those that require permissions to open them, and do not click on links before verifying them, as these messages often carry the ransom virus.
- Always make sure to make automatic backup copies of important data. This method does not prevent you from getting infected with the ransom virus, but it ensures that you preserve your data, and in the event of exposure to the ransom virus, you do not have to pay the ransom to restore your data.
- Keep your software and operating system up-to-date so that you can benefit from security updates that reduce the risk of your computer getting infected with ransomware or any other malware.
- Do not share personal information with unknown sources as ransomware viruses programmers use it for phishing through social engineering.
- Use protection and encryption software on your devices to send and receive files
Signs of device infected with ransomware
Often, ransomware victims find out that their devices have been infected with ransomware late because ransomware has always been well hidden, and nowadays ransomware is much stealthier than before. There are noticeable signs that tell you that your computer is infected with ransomware viruses, the most important of which are:
- Encrypt files: You receive notifications from the operating system saying that you do not have permission to access your files such as photos, documents, etc. This often confirms that your device is infected with ransomware, and if you do not have a backup of your data, you can only restore it with an encryption key.
- The contents of files are mixed together: A sign of ransomware viruses infection is to notice that the files are formatted differently and are mixed in a chaotic manner. When decrypted, they can be restored in their original format.
- Full System Shutdown: This is the biggest sign that your device is infected with ransomware especially when you see a red lock on your screen when you try to boot the computer. Ransomware sometimes prevents you from accessing your entire computer and not being able to unlock it.
- Block access to websites: Some ransomware viruses infects your web browsers and demands a ransom in exchange for regaining access. Not being able to access web browsers is one of the signs of ransomware infection.
How to get rid of ransomware
If you do not want to use the police to solve the problem, you can take some important steps to get rid of the virus, and before doing that, you need to know the type of ransom virus to deal with it according to its type. There are those who encrypt the data and there are those who lock the screen only. Each of these two types is dealt with in a different way as follows.
Get rid of ransomware that locks the screen
- An important step that you need to take is to disconnect the device infected with the ransomware viruses from the Internet to prevent the malware from reaching the rest of the devices over the Internet. Also, disconnect all devices connected to the infected computer and check if they are infected as well.
- Reboot the computer into Safe Mode
- Run or install trusted antivirus software purchased in official safe ways to find malware and clean your computer from them.
Get rid of ransomware that encrypts files
If you don’t have backups and the hacker didn’t steal a copy of your data, there are some steps that can help you get rid of the ransomware viruses:
- Disconnect the infected device from the Internet and any external drives connected to it to avoid transmitting the malware to other devices over the Internet or to external devices and drives connected to it.
- When you decide not to pay the ransom to decrypt your files, you can then run antivirus programs to extract the ransomware if possible, and this is an important step so that you can complete the rest of the steps safely without the risk of encrypting other files.
- If your files have been deleted by ransomware, you may be able to recover them via deleted file recovery tools.
- Try to find out what type of ransomware encrypts it (if the virus doesn’t reveal its name) with online tools that let you know what kind of virus it is and whether it can be decrypted. If you know the type of ransomware, then you can directly use some online tools that will let you know that you can decrypt files.
- When decrypting and restoring your files, you must install a new operating system and run security programs to monitor and scan your files, as some of them may still carry the ransomware viruses.
In the end, our personal information and data on our smart devices have become linked to all the details of our lives, so it is invaluable and will cost us a lot if we lose it or it is leaked, so we must learn how to protect it. The first and most important line of defense against hacking attacks and data theft, be it viruses, ransomware, spyware, or malware, is awareness and knowledge of the types of risks. We must always stay up-to-date with the latest scams, hacking, and protection methods so that we do not easily fall victim to the attempts of scammers.
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