What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software designed by hackers to steal or encrypt files from victims, demanding a ransom for their release or decryption.
This cyberattack involves extorting money from individuals, businesses, or organizations by holding their data hostage.
The Threat of Ransomware
Ransomware can infiltrate systems through various means, with phishing schemes being a common method.
Attackers often distribute infected files or links through deceptive emails, tricking users into downloading or clicking on them.
Once activated, the ransomware takes control of the victim’s device, encrypting files or denying access to them, and the attacker then demands payment to restore access or decrypt the data.
There are three main categories of ransomware:
- Scareware: This type presents fake pop-up messages claiming malware has been detected on the victim’s device. The victim is instructed to pay a certain amount to remove the supposed threats.
- Screen lockers: These ransomware programs lock users out of their devices, displaying a message impersonating law enforcement agencies. Victims are falsely accused of illegal activities and are demanded to pay a fine to regain access.
- Encryption ransomware: This category involves encrypting the victim’s files, rendering them inaccessible until a ransom is paid. The attacker holds the decryption key and promises to release it upon receiving the payment. Decrypting the files without the key is virtually impossible.
Ransomware attackers often demand payments in digital currencies, with Bitcoin being the most commonly requested ransom payment.
Digital currencies provide anonymity and difficulty to trace, making them appealing to cybercriminals.
Protecting against ransomware involves implementing strong cybersecurity measures, regularly backing up important data, and being cautious of suspicious emails or websites.
Maintaining up-to-date antivirus software and educating users about potential risks and best practices for online security is crucial.