Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your data or locks your screen until you pay a ransom. Imagine you just finished that thesis you’ve spent years working on. The next day you switch your device on and see a blinking red message informing you that you can’t access your files unless you pay 500 USD. You’ve just been hit by a ransomware attack. Learn more about this type of attack below.
Ransomware is a type of malware that hackers use to encrypt the victim’s data and then demand a ransom to restore it. This type of ransomware is called crypto ransomware. Hackers hold the key, without which the victim is unable to access the content. They usually require payments in untraceable cryptocurrency.
The second type of ransomware is ransom lockers. Instead of encrypting the victim’s data, hackers lock the screen of the device, blocking access to the files and the entire OS.
Different strains of ransomware include the dangerous maze ransomware and the strangely charitable GoodWill one. While scareware can be relatively harmless, doxware can threaten to publish your sensitive information to the public. Whatever the ransomware strain, it usually does substantial damage to its victims.
Ransomware’s 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 the necessary key, though your files may be recoverable in some cases.
To minimize your risk, 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 attacks. A VPN hides your IP and encrypts your traffic, improving your overall privacy and security on the internet.
However, you need to stay alert to protect yourself from phishing emails. These emails may contain malicious links or attachments that if clicked on/downloaded, install silent malware — including ransomware — onto your device. A VPN can’t prevent you from clicking on a link, so be cautious at all times. Also, a VPN only protects your data in transit. It does not encrypt your stored files or your computer system, so they can still be accessed by hackers to hold you at ransom.
The good news is that a premium VPN is legal and safe, and can actually go a long way to protecting you from illegal activity, including ransomware attacks. Combined with additional threat protection features, VPNs significantly improve your online privacy and alert you in case you are about to download an infected file. We recommend using a VPN as part of your anti-malware strategy.
PRO TIP: Avoid using personal devices for work, and vice versa. If you regularly access work resources and sensitive data through your own smartphone or computer, hackers could target you as a way to breach the rest of the company’s network.
Your online safety is paramount. A VPN is a useful, 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 online activities. 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 on your side, they’ll move on to easier prey.