A wide diversity of study has shown that IT threats and vulnerabilities are constantly becoming an increasing aspect of concern. One of these threats includes ransomware, that seems to be in no hurry of fading from the surface of security and privacy breaching. The chief weapon of ransomware is the phishing emails.
Ransomware is a sophisticated malware designed to prevent you from accessing your files. After paying the demanded ransom, it decrypts the encrypted files and makes you accessible to your valued files. This malware has become so much sophisticated that via asymmetric key encryption algorithms it makes it impossible for the user to restore information by using brute force or reverse engineering.
Phishing Emails – Strategy of Ransomware Proliferation
Phishing email messages, attachments, websites, and even phone calls are now devised for stealing purposes by con artists and identity theft criminals. These phishing emails direct you to insecure websites and trick you into conceding your sensitive information including everything from your name, date-of-birth to financial information, like bank account passwords and credit card numbers.
Once you get lured in the hacker’s trap, he can use this information to create fake accounts in your name, steal your money or, more ruthlessly, your identity.
Recently, information related to miscellaneous malware proliferation campaigns was published by the ESET Laboratory in Latin America. This information was based on the phishing emails with attachments. The most frequent used ransomware such as CryptoLocker, TorrentLocker and the latest CTB-Locker spreads via email attachments.
How Ransomware Works?
When the “filecoder” code encrypts their prey’s information, once the ransomware is installed on the device, the hacker demands ransom in exchange for the decryption key. If the prey pays the ransom, the key works and the device’s files are restored whereas if the prey does not pay the ransom, he loses access to his precious data forever!
Another thing to be noticed is that the decryption key is so much sophisticated that it will only work for the user who pays the ransom for a specific device. So, it cannot be used for the ransomware infected files or hard drive of another device.
What Are the Tips to Fight off Ransomware emails?
In this blog, we will share some of the proactive, simple tips that help you to avoid or lessen the consequences of a ransomware attack mainly via phishing emails.
TIP 01: Avoid giving out your email address
Web forums are such publicly accessible websites from where many snoopers may gather email addresses. Once the email addresses are gathered, phishing emails are sent to spread virulent codes, or to perform malicious activities such as sending unsolicited messages like spam, sending off spontaneous advertising pop-ups, or launching phishing assaults.
The crucial advice to be implemented here is that when sending out emails to more than one address, the sender must use bcc (blind carbon copy). Otherwise, the messages gather together the valid email addresses thus allowing cyber pillagers to detect such information without putting much effort. Similarly, resending those email chains also makes it easier for cyber pillagers to accumulate email addresses for malicious purposes.
TIP 02: Check the content of the messages you receive and send
As mentioned previously that the main armament of ransomware is phishing emails. Therefore, a user should make it a habit of checking the content of the messages he receives via email. Also, the contents of the emails must be checked thoroughly because their attachments have become a common source of spreading ransomware.
For this purpose, it should be a custom to check the sender of any email or message first. Secondly, irresistible offers should be taken care of. And lastly, skeptical links or pop-ups should be avoided because they might lure you to fall in the hacker’s trap.
Haphazard clicking must be avoided at all cost!
It is vital to check the messages you receive and to check the information dispatched in it, along with the attachments. It is also important to recheck the recipients whom you send emails to, so that your sensitive information does not get delivered to the wrong recipient.
TIP 03: Using security tools for protection
A security tool such as an antivirus must be active on your computer round the clock. This practice must be established as it is important for protecting both your information and your device, keeping in mind the extensive quantity of malicious software being spread via phishing emails.
However, if by mistake a malicious file is downloaded or clicked on, the antivirus will protect the malicious code from infecting your system – provided that the antivirus is updated timely and configured with correct settings.
More importantly, this protective measure to avoid ransomware is not just specific to computers rather it can be used for your mobile device’s protection as well. The reason behind protecting your mobile device is that the first ransomware namely Simplocker has also been developed for encrypting files on Android devices.
TIP 04: Keep your system and software updated
With the constant development of ransomware, it is becoming more and more sophisticated. Therefore to battle against ransomware and its phishing emails, one must keep his software and system updated.
Suppose if you have antivirus software then you must keep it up to date and correctly configure its settings so that this type of threat is detected and defended. As a result, no hacker becomes capable of taking advantage of any security vulnerability.
We are aware that the propagating method of ransomware is via phishing emails. But all the same, it is quite important to check the authenticity of the software that you downloaded and installed on your system. A hacker is smart enough to devise other plans than just phishing emails. This is the reason why virulent websites and other such programs and apps that are downloaded must be first checked for authorization.
TIP 05: Backup data on external drives
If a ransomware hits your system but finds nothing of importance then it will be quite beneficial for you because a hacker would find nothing of interest and the sent phishing email will be useless hence it might not infect your system. This is only possible if you have already backed up your data on some other external drive.
A backup is the best defensive weapon of yours to prevent your system from getting infected by ransomware.
TIP 06: Ransomware decryption tools – FREE!
Are you afraid of getting hit by ransomware? Or more precisely, are you afraid that you might lose your data forever? Then don’t be! Because with Ransomware decryption tools you can decrypt your files encrypted via phishing emails sent by some ransomware. By using such tools a user can restore his precious files.
IT threats are becoming more complex, diverse, and are also increasing in quantity. This has forced human mind to think that we are also liable to get a malware hit. It is out question that only specific, famous individuals are prone of being hacked. Because every lay-person has become a liability of getting a direct hit by ransomware, or any other sort of malware, as we are all part of the Internet world.
As this possibility exists, it is just as important to practice implementing the above-mentioned good practices so as to reduce the consequences of becoming a prey to a cyber pillager. A combination of security practices and security tools are enough to protect you from malware, as well as staying aware and updated of these risks are the methods to avoid ransomware.