I would like to thank IT News Today for posting this guest article. They’ve posted a great number of articles which I’ve found incredibly useful and informative. In particular, I would like to direct readers to this article on getting files out of your mobile device.
Out of all of the types of malware out there, ransomware might be some of the most difficult to get rid of and the most frustrating for the victim. It is becoming a rather common tool for hackers and cybercriminals to use and can be used to exploit the victim’s financial data and simply try to directly extort money from the victim. In short, you want nothing to do with it.
What is ransomware? In short, it is a type of malware that will effectively lock down or take over for your computer. It will often take the form of something that is trying to act as a security program, so under no circumstances should you believe anything online that says you are under attack unless is it is from your installed security suite (which you should absolutely have). The ransomware will probably open some sort of program on your computer saying that to get rid of the problem (that it created) you need to subscribe or buy this “security program.” Other ransomware might be a little blunter with its demand for money.
The absolute best way to deal with ransomware is to never encounter it or any program that distributes it in the first place. Even when if it just tries to get ahold of you there is an inconvenience.
To do this, you need to take a look at your internet browsing habits and try to avoid any unsecure or otherwise problematic websites. They can link or popup new tabs which can have malware in them, at which point you will have to spend some good time getting rid of it.
In addition, you are going to want to find the best ad blocker (you can still enable ads on your favorite sites to support them) as well as be extra tough with your settings on pop-ups from webpages, as most ransomware will try to get in via a download from a pop-up.
Also, if you are using a public network on your laptop I would strongly recommend using a VPN. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. This means that your connection to the internet is encrypted and routed through a secure “tunnel” to a host server. You then surf the net from there as you normally would, but hackers can’t get at your data (or even see who you are or what you’re looking at), offering you another layer of protection against ransomware or other malware on your computer. You should also note that the types of websites where you might run into malware or be at risk, are the same ones that have no protection from outside hackers whatsoever and therefore need special attention.
If You Are At Risk
I would consider “at-risk” being in a current situation where a tab or window is open on your computer that is aggressively trying to get you to download something. That something is usually advertised as a great offer, an unbelievably (for a reason) useful program, or a security warning of some sort. Do not believe anything that the window says, and try to close out of it. Be warned that some tabs like this will try and keep you stay on and have a window asking for confirmation. Keeping trying as best you can and check off a “do not open any more prompts” box if it appears.
Shut it down. If you aren’t able to shut down the tab, close the browser. If you are not able to shut down the browser, try to end the process or otherwise force it closed. If you are not able to get rid of it with that, then you might need to try and restart the computer. Use a hard restart if you must. Any loss of data in this manner is miniscule compared to what you could lose if ransomware gets onto your computer.
If You Are Infected
If the worst has come to pass and your computer has become infected with malware, there is still hope for your computer. If you can figure out the location of the file, you can try and restart your computer using safe mode and delete it there where it won’t activate. Your security programs will likely be disabled by it, so you cannot expect them to help you at this time. In a worst case scenario, you might need to restore the computer to a previous time or even reinstall the operating system. You can also try running a scanner program or some sort of security device via a USB drive the malware hasn’t touched.
Under absolutely no circumstances should you ever give in to the demands of ransomware. You are better off smashing your computer up into tiny bits than you are giving into the demands of ransomware. If you give in, then the creators have access to your financial data and other information, and there is absolutely no reason for you to believe that they will say true to their word and remove the malware. More likely they will go ahead and try to get more money out of you (or just take it).
Thank you for reading, and may you never wind up being taken advantage of by ransomware or any other type of malware.