Ransomware – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Computer Security Glossary Terms

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files or locks their computer, rendering it inaccessible until a ransom is paid. The ransom is typically demanded in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to make it difficult to trace the payment back to the cybercriminals. Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years, targeting individuals, businesses, and even government organizations.

How does Ransomware work?

Ransomware is usually spread through phishing emails, malicious websites, or infected attachments. Once the ransomware infects a device, it encrypts the victim’s files using a strong encryption algorithm, making them inaccessible. The victim is then presented with a ransom note, usually demanding payment in exchange for a decryption key to unlock their files. If the ransom is not paid within a certain timeframe, the cybercriminals may threaten to delete the decryption key, leaving the victim’s files permanently encrypted.

What are the different types of Ransomware?

There are several different types of ransomware, including:
– Encrypting ransomware: This type of ransomware encrypts the victim’s files and demands payment for the decryption key.
– Locker ransomware: Locker ransomware locks the victim’s computer or device, preventing them from accessing any of their files or applications.
– Scareware: Scareware displays fake warnings or alerts on the victim’s screen, tricking them into believing their computer has been infected and prompting them to pay a ransom to remove the supposed threat.

How can you protect yourself from Ransomware attacks?

To protect yourself from ransomware attacks, it is important to:
– Keep your software up to date: Make sure to install security updates and patches for your operating system and applications regularly.
– Use strong, unique passwords: Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords.
– Be cautious of email attachments and links: Do not open attachments or click on links from unknown or suspicious senders.
– Backup your files: Regularly backup your important files to an external hard drive or cloud storage service to prevent data loss in case of a ransomware attack.

What should you do if you are a victim of a Ransomware attack?

If you are a victim of a ransomware attack, it is important to:
– Disconnect from the internet: Disconnect your device from the internet to prevent the ransomware from spreading to other devices on your network.
– Contact law enforcement: Report the ransomware attack to your local law enforcement agency or cybercrime unit.
– Do not pay the ransom: There is no guarantee that paying the ransom will result in the decryption of your files, and it may encourage cybercriminals to continue their illegal activities.

What are some real-life examples of Ransomware attacks?

Some notable ransomware attacks include:
– WannaCry: In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, causing widespread disruption to businesses and organizations.
– NotPetya: NotPetya, a variant of the Petya ransomware, targeted Ukrainian businesses and government agencies in 2017, spreading to other countries and causing billions of dollars in damages.
– Ryuk: Ryuk ransomware has been used to target large organizations, such as hospitals and government agencies, demanding high ransom payments in exchange for decrypting their files.