AS mentioned in an earlier news article ( Virus impersonates Met Police e-Crime Unit ), appearing as a screen from the Police demanding that you pay X amount of money for it to be removed is back on the raise. If you’re wondering now what is ransomware and how does it affect my company? Well here is a quick run-down of what it is, what it does and how you can safe guard yourself against it.
Firstly what is ransomware? This is a form of malicious software that hackers install without your knowledge or consent to allow them to lock your computer remotely. Once installed it will normally appear as a pop-up window with a form of warning saying your computer is locked and claims you need to pay money to allow access back to your computer.
Hackers normally go about installing this software in the form of spam emails or malicious links from emails, instant messages, social networking site etc. Some ransomware are even known to install when you visit a malicious website in turn.
Now you’re probably wondering with all this scary talk of malicious software how do you defend against it, well it’s much simpler than you think and requires you to just A. be aware of what you’re doing and B. show common sense at times when surfing the net.
The basics are to have all your anti-virus software as well as your operating systems software up to date as possible as new anti-virus updates are always being added to counter new threats. Be aware of what emails you open and if they are who they say they are, the few second it would take to check the email address than to open the email with a virus attached can make that much of a difference. Use common sense when surfing the internet, only download software from confirmed download sites and download 3rd party software at your own risk, also be aware of pop ups that ask you to click on a link or claim to be from an authority group, as these are more than likely malicious links. A rule of thumb is police or authorities groups will normally sent warnings or information to you via telephone or by letter and on rare occasions by an email, if via email check the senders email address as the display name can be different to the email address.
Now if all the above has failed and you have ransomware on your computer there are a few ways to remove it from your computer, the first if your screen hasn’t been completely locked is to run a full virus scan with your anti-virus software that will hunt down and remove it from your system. The second way is a more advance and should be done if your computer is completely locked and unable to do anything and should only be done if you know what your doing or by an IT technician if one is available, as it requires safe mode knowledge and modifying the regedit file which can have lasting effects on your computer if not configured correctly.
For more information of scams and how to avoid them, check Microsoft’s safety & security centre (email and web scams: how to help protect yourself). http://www.microsoft.com/en-GB/security/online-privacy/phishing-scams.aspx