In 2017 we have to take online security more seriously than ever before. It does not matter whether you are a graphic designer, web coder, an Internet novice or someone with considerable expertise online. We are all vulnerable to criminality and unethical behavior conducted by others with less moral scruples than ourselves.
Online deceit and dishonesty can come in many guises with a variety of intent. Some of the most common and distressing forms include email hoaxes, hack attempts and ruses to gain access to privileged information.
Even here on DesignBump we come across the odd charlatan now and again. All to frequently people just don’t want to pay what is due, despite receiving a service. Many digital marketers and affiliates can tell stories about not being paid what is rightfully theirs.
In fact anyone who runs a website, such as one that is based on the popular WordPress platform must be alert for intrusion and malicious activity. In general the larger the site and the more controversial or valuable its content. The more it potentially becomes a target.
Online Security Threats in a Digital World
Corporate giants are not immune either, that old dinosaur that is Yahoo recently had to divulge not one but two serious email and account compromises that placed customer data at risk. So it is clear that threats occur at all levels online. In big business and at a personal level and the cost to finance, reputation and health can be high.
In another high profile instance online dating site Ashely Madison also found itself in the target sights of online attackers. On this occasion personal data was stolen placing many relationships in jeopardy.
Though vestiges of old viruses remain around the web, you rarely see a computer worm that does damage for the sake of it. Cybercriminals have lost the taste for meaningless digital chaos; instead, most focus their efforts on creating codes that will find and steal valuable data, such as login credentials, financial information, personal identification numbers, and much more.
When Your Computer is Not Yours Anymore
Unfortunately, the biggest trend in malware takes this strategy one step farther: It takes your entire computer away. Ransomware is one of the biggest dangers to home and business computer users alike, and not many security systems are prepared to combat this looming threat. To protect yourself, you should learn all you can about ransomware and its impact which means you desperately need this basic ransomware guide.
Online Security: What Ransomware Is
At its most basic, ransomware is a type of malware that hides users data and demands some service (most often money) for the data release. Sometimes, ransomware is called a denial-of-access or denial-of-service attack because cybercriminals are making essential resources unavailable to users or networks, either temporarily or indefinitely.
The complexity of a ransomware attack varies. Some ransomware can be reversed by home users with little effort, but increasingly more ransomware is encrypted, so even experienced security professionals are unable to retrieve lost files. Most experts sift ransomware into two types: locking, which prohibits users from accessing the operating system, and encrypting, which uses advanced algorithms to block system files.
Why Ransomware Is So Effective
Though few ransomware attacks have made the news, this type of malware could be some of the most devious in computing history. Ransomware is extremely effective at securing what its creators want, be that data, cash, or chaos.
Primarily, ransomware works because much of it relies on advanced encryption, and without the correct decryption key, no user can retrieve the lost data, but the tactic is even more effective because they use psychology against you. By asking for a ransom, criminals seem to be giving users some control to resolve the situation: If you pay, it will all go away.
However, there is no guarantee that the attackers will remove the ransomware from your system with a single payment. Worse, ransomware programs usually claim to be some type of author, such as Microsoft or the FBI. They start by tricking users to gain their trust, and they sometimes impose time limits. Or they start threatening to delete data if payments aren’t made before the deadline. As a result, many ransomware victims panic and submit to demands willingly.
Ransomware has been able to spread because it lacks typical markers of malware that most digital security systems look for. Therefore, ransomware can get into your device incredibly easily, through spam emails, compromised websites and software, text messages, and more.
Plus, attackers after cash usually demand payment in Bitcoin or another crypto-currency, which is untraceable by law enforcement agencies or cybersecurity experts.
Ransomware Expert Tips: Stay Protected
First and foremost, the best guarantee that you won’t be handicapped by ransomware is frequently backing up your computer. Whether you use cloud services or an external hard drive, you should save your most important data in a separate location. That way if your computer falls victim to any disaster â€• digital, like malware, or physical, like diet soda â€• you won’t be completely out in the cold.
However, there are ways you can stay on top of online security and protect your machine from the threat of ransomware:
- Update. Allowing your operating system and software to fall out-of-date is like inviting cyber criminals to play.
- Limit. You should set up a guest account with limited privileges for your daily computing, so if disaster strikes, your administrative account will probably be safe.
- Defend. Consumer ransomware protection is available for home users, and regular updates should keep you safe from the worst ransomware bugs.
- Observe. Spam emails, odd text messages, suspicious attachments, and more should never be opened your device.
The Newest Ransomware Threats
Like most malware, ransomware has evolved through the years, and the newest versions are easily the most insidious. For example, a brand-new threat called Popcorn Time offers you two options to free your data. You can make a standard Bitcoin payment, or you can send the malware on to two of your friends. Only a robust online security strategy can keep you safe from these kind of dangers.
In 2012, the ZeuS family released Reveton, which was among the first police Trojans. Reveton uses logos from law enforcement agencies, your IP address, and other localized content to convince you of its authenticity. Additionally, Cryptowall and CryptoLocker have been some of the widest-spread ransomware attacks, infecting about 150,000 users every month.
Ransomware is only growing in popularity in the cybercriminal community. This means you must consider this malware a real threat to your digital safety. The sooner you start protecting your data and machines, the better.