Tech Talk – Ransomware: Holding your information hostage

September 17, 2015

Tech Support words in 3d letters in a red metal toolbox to illustrate an information technology assistance or help role

Ransomware is software that can be used for restricting or denying access to your data. The attacker encrypts your data and demand that a payment be made in order to decrypt your files.

This type of software is an exploit that is spread through an infected email attachment or by a compromised website. These types of software may also be called cryptoworm, cryptotrojan, or a cryptovirus.

Hackers will use one of several ways to extort money from their victims:

1. A victim discovers that they cannot open a file or gain access to some resource, shortly after that an email may arrive that states their data has been encrypted and they must pay a small amount of money of the decryption key but are warned that if they wait too long the key will be destroyed and they will not be able to recover their information.

2. The victim is fooled into thinking that a law enforcement entity has been contacted regarding a variety of things that are supposed found on their computer (i.e. pirated software, illegal content etc.) then they are given instructions on how to pay a fine via an electronic source

3. The software covertly encrypts the user’s information and does nothing else, with the hope that the user will buy an antivirus software that will supposedly remove the threat.

To better protect yourself for these types of threats, the industry recommends that you keep your antivirus software up to date and that regular backups of your computer are performed. If you do fall victim to ones of these threats do not pay the ransom but instead erase your computer’s hard drive and restore your data from a backup.

VACo Contact: John Kandris

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