What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of computer virus. The goal is to extort money from the user, by blocking access to the device and files, often demanding payment via cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, or a gift card. Then, according to the FBI, "the money you pay may be used to fund organized crime activity or acts of terrorism while encouraging future criminal activity by these cyber thieves." They may threaten to lock up your files, encrypt your hard drive, or even leak your personal documents online. Some of these viruses even claim to be a three letter government agency (FBI, NSA, IRS, etc) and threaten to issue an arrest warrant for a litany of cyber crimes if a ransom is not
paid. Remember, the government will NEVER do this. These are scammers trying to instill fear using these various threats and coerce you into paying their ransom.
How is Ransomware spread?
Ransomware can spread a number of ways. The more common ways that these viruses spread, is via email, online download, or sometimes they can even spread using your home, office, or even a coffee shop's networks to other nearby computers.
How can I avoid falling victim to Ransomware?
Early, primitive forms of Ransomware never left the user's web browser. These threatened to delete your files, but few were actually able to do so. They were relatively simple to get rid of for experienced IT technicians. Unfortunately, more recent variants have grown exponentially more complexity, and have been found to use highly secure encryption algorithms to encrypt your data. Normally, encrypting your data is a good thing. In the case of these viruses however, they encrypt your data and hold the "key" or "password" necessary to decrypt and access the data, ransom. Unfortunately, even when the ransom is paid, most do not decrypt your data as promised, and leave your data irretrievable. In order to avoid infection, you should:
If you think you may be infected with ransomware, disconnect your computer from your internet/network if possible, and Contact Three Z IT immediately!