Photographs are cherished memories. Did you know that they could disappear irreversibly?
Learn more about the dangers ransomware poses to your personal files.
Did you know that ransomware encryption is a direct threat to all the data stored on your computer? Just a click on the wrong email attachment, and all your family photos, videos, documents could be gone for good. You have definitely heard about the majority of international enterprises that have suffered ransomware attacks, like in the recent WannaCry crisis.
In fact, statistics show that the majority of ransomware infections occurred on consumer computers.
With more than a third of all infections, the US continues to be the region most affected by ransomware. Ransomware itself continues to be cybercriminals’ most preferable malicious payload. Why is that? 1) It is easy to get via the ransomware-as-a-service model, and 2) extorting money from victims has never been more effortless.
How Ransomware Encryption Damages Your Files
To understand how ransomware works and why it is such a threat, we should have a closer look at its encryption methods. Simply said, encryption is the replacement of symbols with other symbols. A set of symbols and a particular methodology in how they are replaced creates an encoding cipher. In file encryption, the same principle is applied, with the difference that the regular code of the file is replaced with different symbols. The difference in symbols that are replaced reveals the type of algorithm being used as well as its strength.
There are two types of encryption:
Symmetric (Private) key encryption – a scheme where the keys are the same for the Sender as well as the Recipient. It is primarily used for communicating securely and is now applied in most chat platforms, email services, etc.
Public key encryption – this type of encryption includes a public key available for massive access by anyone. The only condition for a successful deciphering of a file or message is that the user knows what the decryption key is.
Advanced ransomware such as Locky and Cerber may employ these two types of encryption in a variety of ways. Unlike a year or two ago, when most ransomware used only one algorithm (usually RSA) to encrypt users’ files, now we are threatened by quite sophisticated ransomware viruses. A combination of algorithms is often used. At first, a file may be encrypted with a symmetric encryption process, making it unable to open. As a second layer of defense, the size of the file may also be changed by adding a second algorithm in the header of the already encrypted code, as shown below:
There are some measures, however, that you should consider to prevent ransomware from encrypting your files:
Tip №1. Be vigilant with your emails! Suspicious emails always find a way to sneak in your inbox. Such emails usually include links and attachments that contain malicious payloads such as ransomware. Once you click on the link or open the attachment, the ransomware is activated and all your personal files will be encrypted.
Tip №2. Update, update, update! Keep everything updated! This includes your operating system, browsers and security solutions.
Tip №3. Back up! Do regular backups of your important files, such as photos, videos and personal documents. It is the best prevention method. Also, you can keep these files in two separate locations if you can.
Tip №4. Keep your Firewall on! You should always keep your Firewall on and running at all times. The more layers of protection you have – the better! The Firewall controls incoming and outgoing traffic, based on security rules, so it can stop ransomware from reaching your files.
Tip №5. Install a security solution! A strong anti-malware program guards your data against the latest cyber threats lurking on the web.
Prevent ransomware from encrypting your files. Stop it before it’s too late.
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