You just finished that thesis you’ve spent years working on. The next day you switch your device on and see a screaming red screen informing you that your files are encrypted and you have to pay 500 USD to retrieve them. You’ve just been hit by a ransomware attack. Learn more about them below.
Ransomware is a type of malware that hackers use to encrypt the victim's data and demand a ransom to restore it. They hold the key, without which the victim is unable to access the content. They usually require payments in untraceable cryptocurrency.
There are different types of ransomware attacks, from the dangerous maze ransomware to the strangely charitable GoodWill attack. While scareware can be relatively harmless, doxware can threaten to publish your sensitive information to the public. There were also tons of ransomware cases most of which have done substantial damage to victims.
The infection methods do not differ significantly from other kinds of malware. You can get ransomware through a phishing email, a malicious link, a download from a suspicious website, or other social engineering tricks. Once activated, it encrypts the victim’s files. Finally, the malware or the hacker themselves will inform the victim on when and how to pay the ransom.
Anyone can be a ransomware target, but these entities are more likely to be attacked:
Anti-malware software or device resets may remove ransomware, but these methods are highly unlikely to save your files. It will probably be impossible to decrypt them unless you have a necessary key, though your files may be recoverable in some cases.
To minimize your risks, use these ransomware prevention methods:
Secure your internet connection and enhance your privacy with a VPN.
A VPN can’t stop ransomware, but it can make you less vulnerable to attack. A VPN hides your IP and encrypts your traffic and data, making it harder for ransomware creators to target you. However, you also need to stay alert to protect yourself from ransomware threats like phishing emails.
In these instances, ransomware works by installing silent malware onto your device, which is usually hidden in malicious email links and attachments. Since ransomware requires you to click on these links or attachments, a VPN can’t prevent that. A VPN protects your data in transit. It doesn’t encrypt your stored files or your computer system, so they can still be accessed by hackers to hold you at ransom.
If you don't know much about VPNs, it's easy to fall into the trap of assuming that they're an illicit or suspect workaround. The good news, however, is that a premium VPN is legal and safe, and can actually go a long way to preventing illegal activity. We would definitely recommend using a VPN as part of any larger anti-malware strategy.
Your online safety is paramount. A VPN is the perfect, all-round tool to protect your privacy on the internet. Hiding your data from snoopers and cybercriminals, this service will stop hackers spying on your passwords and other sensitive information. NordVPN's encryption key has more combinations than there are atoms in our universe. As soon as a criminal realizes that you've got a VPN by your side, they'll move on to easier prey.