What Is Ransomware?

what is ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the victim’s data and holds it at ransom. Likewise, the data stays encrypted until the ransom is paid. In more straightforward terms, it is malicious software that locks a victim out of their computer then asks for money to restore access.

Ransomware is a common type of malware or malicious software. Hackers and cybercriminals target individuals or organizations first to gain access, then encrypt data on their computers. After a successful ransomware attack, the attackers demand a certain ransom amount to restore access to the affected devices.

How does Ransomware work?

Ransomware’s design spreads explicitly across a network and targets databases or servers. As a result, this type of malicious software can quickly spread across an entire organization, infecting the whole workforce.

Moreover, the bigger the attack, the more the ransom amount. Ransom uses an asymmetric encryption method that uses a pair of keys to encrypt and decrypt the files. The attacker locks your data, and only they have the keys to unlock it. Without the generated private key, it is almost impossible to decrypt the data.

After ransomware lands on a system, it searches for valuable data such as documents, photos, programs, or databases. Post scanning, the malware encrypts all the accessible data and generates a pair of public-private keys stored on the attacker’s end.

How and why does Ransomware spread?

Ransomware comes in several shapes and sizes. Often, it comes via spam email campaigns or targeted attacks via various methods. Furthermore, malvertising or malicious advertising uses online ads to distribute ransomware as it requires less user interaction.

Other miscellaneous methods of spreading malware include fake messages, dangerous websites, or infected media. After all, ransomware is just a tiny software with lines of code. Attackers use ransomware purely for selfish gains.

How do I protect myself and my organization?

There are some precautions that every user must adhere to while browsing the internet or using computers in general.

  • Always have a backup of your important data elsewhere.
  • Always have a reliable anti-malware or antivirus software up and running.
  • Increase network security on a multi-network structure.
  • Avoid visiting suspicious websites.
  • Do not open spam emails or any emails with suspicious links.
  • Avoid surfing the web on public networks.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

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