Much is said about digital hijacking attacks, the famous ransomware, especially after the covid pandemic-55. However, it is a fact that many people end up hearing the term and not understanding what it means, and even less realizing the danger of this type of virtual scam.
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Ransomware is a type of virtual attack in which a computer, when infected, has its data encrypted, preventing it from being accessed. In order to release the data, criminals usually demand a ransom, or, in English,ransom. The practice is one of the main cyber crimes, especially after the changes brought about by the covid pandemic-.
Damage caused by a ransomware attack can have consequences beyond data loss. Criminals, in recent times, have taken companies as targets, and when carrying out attacks, they demand millionaire ransoms, often which can complicate the company’s entire balance sheet.
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There are different types of ransomware, from those that can be uninstalled in just a few clicks to those that are extremely complex and complicated to be. removed. Also, if a computer gets infected, there is no universal solution to solve the problem, such as a decryption tool that works on all types of viruses. Therefore, to prevent yourself or your desktop from being the target of such a scam, it is good to be informed about the virus.
The first step to be able to prevent a virtual kidnapping attack is to know how to detect it. The sooner the threat is detected, the easier it will be to fight the infection. There are several signs to identify the crime before it’s too late, and we list them below:
Keep an eye out for antivirus alarms
If your device has an anti-virus program, chances are high that it will identify the ransomware before the computer becomes infected. However, be careful, some attacks can fool scanners.
The antivirus is important mainly because it can identify many times the exact name of the malware that is trying to infect the machine. Usually, after the ransomware is executed, the virus that brought it to the computer deletes itself, making identification impossible and complicating the problem solution.
Check the file extension and name Files that have had their extension changed may indicate a ransomware attack. (Image: Reproduction/InfoBusiness Informatics)
An image file will always have “.jpg” or “.png” extensions, right? If you identify a file extension change to a different string of letters, it is quite possible that your machine is undergoing a virtual hijack attack.
The same care must be taken with documents that, out of nowhere, have their names changed. Ransomware attacks often change the name of infected files, so keep an eye out for these details.
Check for increased CPU activity and of the disk.
Increasing disk or processor activity to higher-than-usual values may indicate that something in the background is making changes in both components. Check this information often as ransomware when encrypting data increases CPU and disk usage.
Keep an eye out for questionable network communications
Did an alert appear in your operating system or in your antivirus program indicating that the machine is performing suspicious network communication? This is another warning as the malware’s interaction with the attacker’s server can cause this notification to appear.
I suffered a ransomware attack, now what?
Example ransomware attack message ransom. (Image: Reproduction/Avast)
If other signs are not identified, the invasion will likely be successful. A last sign, although belated, is the appearance of encrypted files on the computer, which cannot be opened. Finally, a window will open on the screen, with a ransom request, confirming that the device is suffering a ransomware attack. However, there are ways to try to get rid of the virus.
Ransomware is generally found in two variants: blocking and encryption. The first locks the entire screen, while the second still lets you mess around with your computer, but files cannot be opened as they are locked.
In either case, there are some general options to get rid of the attack:
- Pay the ransom and wait for the cybercriminals to keep their word and decrypt the data;
- Try to remove the malware using the available tools;
- Restore the computer to factory settings.
If you choose to remove the malware using the available tools, the process is not exactly simple, but neither is it impossible.
In the scenario where the attack was carried out with a screen lock ransomware, the first challenge is be able to access the machine’s security software. A possible solution in this case is to start the computer in Safe Mode. In this mode, there is a possibility that the malware responsible for the screen lock will not be loaded, as it is not a necessary function for the basic functioning of the device. If safe mode works, just run the antivirus program to fight the plague.
Now, if the scenario is an cryptographic ransomware attack, the process has more variables. As stated earlier in the article, identifying the attack of a possible virus on the computer early has changed a lot for dealing with it. But if the malware is not detected early, in some cases there is a chance that there will be no way to recover the encrypted data.
If the ransomware is detected before the ransom demand occurs, you have time to stop the infection. Data that has been encrypted so far will remain locked, but nothing else will be affected. Another important point in detecting the attack as early as possible is that the malware is prevented from spreading to other devices and files.
Another method to stay safe should it suffer an encryption attack is keep a backup of all your data, whether it’s on physical disk or cloud storage. Should a ransomware infection occur on your machine, you can simply bypass the ransom and restore your computer to factory settings. Your data will remain safe thanks to the backup.
In the scenario where the attack was not detected early and there was no data backup, how to proceed? You can ask the company responsible for your antivirus for help and you can search if there is already a decryption tool for the ransomware that has infected your machine. As a last option, if all others have failed, there is a ransom payment.
To pay or not to pay the ransom?
With all options exhausted, payment ransom for criminals may start to look like a good option, but just like in a real hostage situation, the no-deal policy is the best option. In general, paying the fee demanded by criminals in cases of ransomware is not recommended as there is no guarantee that the attackers will actually fulfill their promise to release the data. Furthermore, the act can encourage this type of crime, which is something that should be avoided as much as possible.
However, if the intention to pay the ransom really exists, it is important that you do not remove the ransomware from the computer, as in many variants of virtual hijacking malware is the only program capable of apply the decryption code to the files. A removal after paying the fee but before decrypting the documents can render the code, acquired at a high price, useless, resulting in the complete loss of data and money.
If the virus is still has not been deleted, but the decryption key has arrived, first release the files and then delete the virus, as there is no longer any reason to keep the malicious program on your machine.
Regardless of all these steps, it is clear that ransomware is a real virtual danger, and one of the most intense. If you find yourself victim of such an attack, the support of the company responsible for your antivirus as well as keeping in mind the steps explained throughout this text can help you not to have so much damage. However, even following all the tips in this text, don’t consider yourself invincible; anyone is subject to a virtual kidnapping attack.
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- After mega leaks, attempts of data theft increases 55% in Brazil in 503985