A popular type of scam, ransomware has been a prominent method of extortion throughout all internet history, and even some time before it.
Ransomware is most often propagated by email and other methods of file transfer. Once a ransomware software is downloaded, most often in .Zip format, it will automatically install itself and encrypt the files found on the PC with a public key. The files can be of any variety, and different ransomware programs will use different approaches to finding files to encrypt.
Once the files has been encrypted, the ransomware will prompt the user to purchase back access, or the public key will be destroyed and the encrypted files become subsequently lost. The amount requested is most often in the triple digits, and can vary greatly. These sums are usually requested to cryptocurrency addresses, as well as other transaction providers with strong focus on anonymity. Whether paying the sum requested by the ransomware actually releases the files varies by case.
To avoid being affected by ransomware, follow these tips:
- Keep your anti-virus up to date and active. A good anti-virus can often catch ransomware before it is installed.
- Never download files or click on links from emails you do not know.
- Back up your files regularly (preferably to a cloud service, where they can be accessed from other devices as well).
Stay Safe. Stay Secure.