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Ransomware: What It Is and Why It Happens

You hear about ransomware all the time. The most recent news was that 22 municipalities in Texas were hit.  This was a coordinated attack too.  That means that several people all hit different locations with the same version of ransomware simultaneously. You may be asking yourself what is ransomware and why does it happen?

So what is ransomware and how does it work?

Ransomware is a kind of malicious software(malware) that encrypts or encodes your files. The attacker will then demand a ransom from you in order to gain access to your data upon payment. You may be shown instructions for how to pay a fee to get a decryption key.

But what happens if you don’t pay the ransom?

None of the 22 Texas municipalities payed the ransom, but only half have recovered their data. To not pay the ransom you must remove the malware to regain control of your computer. Once the malware is gone, you can restore the computer to a previous state.  Both things a Nerd here at Techstarters can help with! However, these steps will not decrypt your files. Those can be recovered from a backup if the backup wasn’t compromised.  If you need a backup, we can help with that too. 

But how can you prevent this from happening to start with?

The steps you should take to take to prevent ransomware are steps you should follow for general security as well, as they prevent many kinds of attacks:

  • Keep your operating system up to date, this ensures you have fewer vulnerabilities
  • Don’t install software or give it administrative privileges unless you know exactly what it is and what it does
  • Install antivirus software, which detects malicious programs like ransomware as they arrive
  • Turn off your auto play feature
  • Back up your files, frequently and automatically! It won’t stop a malware attack, but it can make the damage caused by one much easier to handle
  • You can also use a layered defense strategy and use a WatchGuard Firebox or other type of advanced firewall protection

Now that you know what ransomware is and why it happens you can help prevent an attack, with help with antivirus, backups, system restoration, or firewalls and Nerd at TechStarters is here to assist you.