What is Ransomware? How dangerous is it and how to get rid of it

Owing to the openness of the internet, there exist both productive and destructive counterparts, much like in the real world. While the former can be found in abundance, the latter emulates real-world scenarios of extortion and demanding ransom.
Cybersecurity for CSOsThere is no doubt about the fact that the next kind of warfare or distortion will be related to the world of cybertechnology. Entities that are equipped to tackle this are leaving no stone unturned; but it seems to be neglecting the simpler forms of such manifestations. One such problem is ransomware, and this is all you need to know about it.

What is Ransomware?

Simply put, it is one of the rudimentary forms of malware. As obvious from the term itself, ransomware are malware used to extort currencies from vulnerable parties. Usually targeted at organizations and institutions that can be easily extorted (like hospitals), Ransomware are notorious elements that seem more damaging than meets the eye.

Usually following a pattern of encrypting elements in your system that would otherwise be of utmost importance, Ransomware usually command (as the name suggests) ransom to get the said files decrypted. After the targeted party has resorted to meeting the demands of the virtual assailant, the said party receives a solution to decrypt the said files.

Ransomware are becoming a commonplace concern. Usually demanding the said amounts in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins (for they are untraceable), Ransomware are simple tools that have devilish consequences.

How Dangerous is it?

Ransomware might not sound as dangerous compared to its complex counterparts like trojans, but that does not take away the danger it poses. The most significant problem that ransomware poses is the parties it targets. These include college servers, hospitals, various companies and even software manufacturers may targeted.

How does it pose a threat to the said organisations, you might ask? Think about it. For a hospital that maintains its logs and data online, it sounds rather simple to hold it ransom. In a hospital where patient data is required immediately, Ransomware can pose a serious threat.

Ransomware also take advantage of the fact that educational institution servers are not as well-equipped as they ideally should be. In fact, most of these institutions are not even equipped with basic protection such as antivirus software and ransomware protection.

On a personal level, ransomware threats can vary in a rather wide spectrum. If you are someone who does a lot of transactions online, and has a lot of vulnerable data in your system, even the most basic ransomware could pose a serious threat to you. One can only imagine how dangerous it can be if the scales are magnified.

How to Get Rid of it?

The first thing to do is to make sure your online presence is protected via antivirus and an ID monitoring service. There is no problem if you are not as technologically-capable. Battling ubiquitous ransomware is something that a lot of companies are taking rather seriously by the day. As an average consumer, you are exposed to a lot of such cybersecurity solutions. You may discover such companies and the solutions they provide, and subscribe to them accordingly.

If you are planning on tackling ransomware yourself, though, these are a few steps you can follow.

# As a PC user, reboot your system using Windows 10 Safe Mode. This should present your system with a very basic UI.

# Install Antimalware Software. You can flash this from a third-party provider, or use the one provided by your default system only.

# Scan your PC to scout for any malicious content. The aforementioned software should look for the malicious ransomware programme that has been bugging your system.

# Erase the said ransomware programme and restore your PC to the previous state.

It is important to note that the files that have been encrypted in the process of extorting ransom will not change their status. Basically, affected files will not be decrypted. However, there is a silver lining here.

After having removed the malicious content, your system is bereft of any means in which you can be extorted. In other words, while you might have encrypted files in your system, you can’t be extorted for them anymore. All you need to do is decrypt the affected files.

The Bottomline — Practice Vigilance

Being cautious of where and how you spend time online is important in order to prevent such events from happening in the first place. Practicing vigilance online, avoiding clickbait and spam emails, and of course, abstaining from forbidden or suspicious websites should be healthy practices to avoid these issues.

Baburajan Kizhakedath