Ransomware attacks are becoming all too common because they represent the easiest way for cybercriminals to take money from institutions and individual users alike.
All these hackers need is one point of weakness in your system, like a piece of outdated software, to slip their malware through and extract your personal information. If their price is reasonable, you may be tempted to hand over the cash and get your data back, but there’s no way to tell if hackers will keep their promises.
Not to worry, though. You can keep these extortionists at bay and protect your Mac or PC with the right antivirus software, the kind that knows how cybercriminals think and how to thwart them. This usually involves an artificial intelligence component equipped with a robust database of known cyberthreats. The AI can then analyze how incoming threats are coded and tip your antivirus into action before any damage is done.
You should also keep yourself informed about how cybercriminals operate. That way, you’ll know what to look out for the next time a suspicious email or pop-up message beckons for your attention. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Hackers benefit from ransomware because they can deploy it without exerting too much effort. They often opt for forming a botnet, which is a horde of computers governed by an operator from a command and control server.
All the operator has to do is send instructions and the computers will do as they’re told. That could mean spamming an illegally-procured email list and urging users to initiate a malicious download, or infiltrating business networks with keylogger software to steal passcodes and access confidential databases. If a hacker’s main goal is disruption, they might even deploy wiper malware, which encrypts your data without the hope of ever deciphering it.
Ransomware developers have gravitated toward cryptocurrencies because they can anonymously transact with them. If you pay a hacker in bitcoin, an electronic ledger called a blockchain records the transaction for all to see, but you’ll only be able to identify the recipient by a wallet address. If there are no details tied to that wallet, you’ll have no means of locating your cybercriminal.
Cutting-edge antivirus providers like Malwarebytes go a long way to ensuring your online safety, but you must fill in the gaps with your own behavior to make your protection truly ironclad. Millions of Internet users suffer from the following cybersecurity weaknesses:
- A lack of critical awareness when opening emails from unfamiliar senders or browsing on unfamiliar websites
- Blind trust in the small odds of a cyberattack ever happening to them
- Improper training at work and at home to remedy these deficiencies
Sidestep them altogether by educating yourself so you never fall for the ruse and end up being phished for sensitive information. You can start by learning to recognize something simple like malspam before unintentionally unleashing malware into your system.
Besides your behavior, your best defense against ransomware is a proven antivirus program. Find one that offers real-time protection through automation so it can recognize threats without delay, stop them in their tracks, and preserve your peace of mind.