What is Ransomware?

ransomware

What exactly is ransomware? Chances are you may have heard this term being mentioned in the media, but don’t know how it could affect you, or even how you get it on your computer.

However, you know it’s not a nice thing to encounter, and there’s a problem.

The problem is you may not even know you have ransomware installed on your computer. Actually, the first you know about it is when it’s activated, but more on that later.

Ransomware is Software

First, ransomware is actually a piece of software that makes its way onto your computer. The software will tend to be hidden away in a corner of your computer.

Most people will inadvertently download the software without their knowledge, thanks to clicking on something in an email or even on a website. The link they click on seems perfectly fine and legitimate, but the reality is something different.

But once it’s on your computer? What can it do?

Ransomware Can Perform Various Actions

Ransomware has the ability to carry out a number of different actions on your computer. So, let’s quickly look at them.

1. Searching Your Data Network

One of the first things it will do is scour your network. Now, with this, we don’t mean your social network, but rather all that data that sits on your computer system.

You see, ransomware deals in data. It wants to get inside all of that important information, and then lock it up to prevent you from gaining access. That is how the software attempts to make money.

The software knows you need access to your data or credentials, and it will grant you access, but only on their terms.

2. It Calls Back to the Bad Guys

The other main thing this software can do is to call back to the bad guys. This allows them to keep tabs on what’s happening, and it’s effectively checking in with them.

Really, it’s like some mobster calling back to the mob boss, but done in software form.

Once it Accesses Your Data

But what happens when it accesses your data? Well, this is the easiest part to understand.

The software will lock you out of the data, and then set up the ‘ransom’ where you need to pay them a certain amount within a certain period of time to regain access. If you don’t, then the data will probably be destroyed, but then you were unable to gain access anyway.

Ransomware will use cryptocurrency as payment. This is due to it being untraceable, so the criminals behind it feel there’s no way of finding out who they are. The amount of money does vary depending on the form of ransomware, but it’s going to hit you hard in your pocket.

Ransomware Prevention

To prevent yourself from falling into this trap, there are several things you can do.

The first thing is to understand ransomware comes in email links and links on websites. Be very wary about clicking on any link in an email that you were not expecting.

Also, have a first-class firewall in place, and don’t use that same old simple password with every single thing. You need to up your password game to make it harder for them to effectively guess it and gain access to your data.

Finally, back up your data, and keep it away from the network that’s connected to the Internet. That way, if ransomware did gain access, you still have a copy of your data, so it’s not a big deal.

By following those few steps, you will hopefully never have to encounter ransomware at any point. It’s disruptive, costs you money and data, and will severely restrict your business. So, don’t give them a road into your data in the first place by preparing and arming yourself as best you can.

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