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Ransomware is a form of malware that rose to prominence following the WannaCry assault in 2017. By encrypting files, this sort of virus allows hackers to restrict people’s access to the data on their machines. Once the files have been encrypted, the hacker might demand money (i.e., a ransom) in return for the decryption key required to regain access to them.

Hacking Methods

People afflicted with early ransomware variants mostly had to worry about losing access to their data owing to file encryption. However, hackers have used data theft to help incentivise ransomware victims to pay.

1. File Encryption

Ransomware uses file encryption to keep people from accessing their files. This makes it difficult for people to use their files and makes them desperate for a way to decrypt their files.

Since ransomware typically encrypts files on an individual machine, this limits the damage from a ransomware attack to just one person. However, if a hacker encrypts files on a central server, ransomware affects numerous users.

2. Data Theft

In the most advanced ransomware attacks, hackers use ransomware to hold data hostage in the sense that they don’t necessarily corrupt files, but they still hold them in a sort of limbo.

In these cases, hackers might encrypt files and then let the people using the files have access to them while they’re being “decrypted”. However, the hackers may not actually be decrypting the files. Instead, they may be stealing the files and keeping them encrypted. By taking this approach, hackers avoid the potential problem of users discovering that their files are already intact, which would make it less likely that they would agree to pay a ransom to the hackers.

Ways to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

The best way to prevent ransomware attacks is to back up your files. If your files are backed up, you can restore them from outside your computer. Even if ransomware locks your files and encryption key, your files are still available once you restore them.

However, there are other measures you can take, namely to prevent ransomware attacks:

1. Use Data Backups

The best way to prevent ransomware attacks is to use data backups. This is the most effective way to recover your files, even if a hacker encrypts them.

Backups are the only way to recover files if hackers encrypt them quickly. Even if you have an encrypted backup, it may not be available. Hackers can steal backups and delete them or overwrite them with ransomware.

2. Perform Regular Scans

Cryptowall and other ransomware variants are designed to remain hidden. These variants do not use many resources, so they are unlikely to be detected by anti-malware software. This means that hackers can sneak their ransomware onto your computer without your detection.

To prevent this, you should scan for malware regularly. You can use anti-malware software, or you can use your existing antivirus or anti-adware software. You should also find out whether your operating system can scan for malware.

3. Keep Your Software Up to Date

Vulnerabilities are regularly discovered in all computer software and operating systems. Hackers take advantage of these vulnerabilities, creating malware designed to take advantage of flaws in executable files.

To prevent this, it’s important to keep your software up to date. You can update the software manually, or you can enable automatic updates.

4. Meet With Cybersecurity Consultants

If you’re worried that you’re not doing enough to protect your business or organisation from malware, you can always meet with cybersecurity consultants. Consultants can help you prevent ransomware attacks and move forward with other cybersecurity plans.

Conclusion

Ransomware is a growing threat. The best way to prevent ransomware attacks is to use data backups to recover your files, even in case of ransomware attacks. You should also scan for malware to prevent infections, keep your software up to date, and meet with cybersecurity consultants if you think you need more help.

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