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  • Writer's pictureMichael Paulyn

What is Ransomware?

In today's digitally driven world, the threat of cybersecurity attacks continues to loom large for organizations, both big and small, and even the average person. With ransomware evolving and emerging as the top culprit and a particularly insidious menace, online safety is paramount. This blog looks at what ransomware is, how it can strike, and some easy ways to stay safe online.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is malware (malicious software) that works to encrypt files or lock victims out of their systems, making it impossible to access that data until they pay the hefty ransom demanded by the hacker. The part that makes this type of malware so truly nefarious is it exploits a user's desperate need to get their valuable information back.

Most cybercriminals will send a digital message demanding an exorbitant ransom payment and instructions on how to hand over the money and regain access to the files. Hackers usually request ransom to be paid in some cryptocurrency, allowing them to stay anonymous and hidden from law enforcement attempts to track them down.  

3 Ways Ransomware Can Strike

Ransomware can infiltrate systems through various means, including:

  1. Phishing Emails: Cybercriminals often send ransomware using deceptive emails with malicious attachments or links. The users who casually open these links or downloads will unwittingly install the ransomware onto their devices.

  2. Exploit Kits: Hackers can attempt to exploit certain weak points in a specific piece of software or operating systems to implant ransomware. For the most part, computers with outdated software or unpatched systems are ideal targets for these attacks.

  3. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) Compromise: Some cybercriminals exploit vulnerable RDP credentials to gain unauthorized access to their victim's systems covertly and quietly deploy the ransomware.

3 Ways to Stay Protected Against Ransomware

With most malware types, education is critical in protecting against potential attacks. Ransomware is no different; you'll be one step ahead of the game by knowing what signs to look for and practicing proper cyber hygiene. Consider the following six measures to bolster your defenses:

  1. Regular Backups and Updates: It's critical to always back up your most important files and keep your software and operating systems updated. If a ransomware attack occurs, you can quickly restore your data and minimize the impact of the overall breach.

  2. Security Software: Install cutting-edge antivirus software on all your devices; it can help ensure that threats are detected early and their impact is mitigated effectively.

  3. Strong Passwords: Using solid and robust passwords effectively keeps hackers out of your accounts and away from your sensitive files. For an added layer of security and peace of mind, using multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a wise decision.

Final Thoughts

The truth is that ransomware does pose a significant threat to individuals and organizations alike, with its ability to deliver devastating consequences for those who fall victim. But there is hope: with the antivirus software, ongoing education, and a healthy skepticism, ransomware and hackers don't stand a chance.

Hungry for more? Join me each week, where I'll break down complex topics and dissect the latest news within the cybersecurity industry and blockchain ecosystem, simplifying the tech world. 



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