What is it?
Ransomware is essentially a virus, but instead of just being annoying and making your computer act slow. It encrypts your files holding them hostage until you either pay the ransom (which is EXACTLY what they want you to do), or you remove the ransomware from your system. Now removing ransomware isn’t just as simple as running a virus scan and letting your AntiVirus (AV) do the task for you. Its been around since the 1980’s but has grown more popular. Previously it would demand paying the ransom via snail mail, Today, they demand payment by credit card or cryptocurrency.
There are three main types of ransomware, ranging in severity from mildly annoying to Cuban Missile Crisis dangerous. They include:
- Screen Lockers
- Encrypting ransomware
This is now actually scary, but as previously stated, mildly annoying. This is where you get bombarded with pop-up messaged claiming that malware has been detected. They will claim the only way to clear this malware is to pay the ransom. Realistically the files are harmless, they won’t cause damage to your system, but they will get on your nerves.
What you should know is that a real cybersecurity software program wont solicit their customers. If you don’t already have their software on your computer, they wont me monitoring you for any type of infections. If you do have do have security software, why would they charge you more after you’ve already paid them for protection? The purpose of paying for cybersecurity protection is not to just be notified you’re infected, its to actually protect you when you do become infected.
These infections are a bit more severe. Lets say this is an orange alert on the terror scale. When you get infected with a screen locker, this means your frozen and locked out of your computer all together. When you start your computer, a full screen window will appear. This window will normally have an official looking US Department of Justice or FBI seal saying illegal activity was detected on your computer and you need to pay a fine to regain access to your system.
Please note, neither the FBI nor the US DOJ would freeze you out of your computer or require payment for illegal activity. If you are under investigation for piracy, child pornography, or other cybercrimes, they will always take action through the appropriate legal channels.
This is the worst of it. These are the attacks that lock your files behind encryption, demand you pay a ransom in order to unlock the encryption. The reason these are the most dangerous is simple, once your files are encrypted, you should consider them gone forever. The reason for that is, unless you pay the ransom – for the most part, they are gone. Even if you fork over the ransom, there isn’t a guarantee they attackers will actually decrypt your files and give them back.