Ransomware and Defence Mechanisms – How to Stay Safe?

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On May 12, 2017, almost 200,000 people across 150 countries became victims of one of the biggest cyber attacks in history. In this attack, users across the globe were either locked out of their systems or had lost access to their personal data and files that were encrypted by the malicious software- Wannacry Ransomeware. Ransomeware is a complex piece of software designed to leverage a vulnerability in users operating systems, blocking their access to all personal files, after which they demand a grand sum as ransom to decrypt your files and give you access to your system.

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The 21st century has brought to us a world that is inextricably bound with the digital presence. Our growing dependence on computer systems as massive storage and computing devices are now under threat with the growing magnitude of cyber attacks and Ransomeware.  The use of computers and the internet from accessing information on Wikipedia to online transactions leads to the culmination of a huge quantum of personal data being stored on the system. Cyber criminals use unknown links that direct users to sites which cause systems to get infected and carry forward these attacks. While several antivirus companies have tried to come up with ways to remove the virus affecting the system, there aren’t many options to fix your system and regain access to all data. However, there are several measures that may prevent your system from being attacked in the first place.

The first step is to abstain from following and clicking on links that do not have an official or verified source. One must never download from a site that shows pop ups that say your computer software is outdated.  Websites cannot detect outdated software unless they are given permission to read your hard drive. Always update software through links shared on official websites. The next step is to ensure that you have the latest anti-virus installed that protects your system from all kinds of malware. One of the major issues with ransomware attacks is that once your system has been infected, there is not much one can do to reverse the damage. This makes it very important for the users to be proactive with antivirus and updates to guard against the virus in the first place. Lastly, as a user, you must regularly create backups of all files in places like the Google Drive, so in case your system is ever affected by such an attack, you will not be coerced to pay ransom to get your files back and will be able to access the same through a different device. Hackers rely on the fact that most users don’t regularly backup their files and thus are always at a risk of data loss.

While technology has been a boon to the society so much so that everything we do today has been revolutionized, it is important to remember that we are now living in a world where one person sitting behind a computer can access things on your computer from miles away. Thus as cyber citizens, we must at all times be equipped to guard against such attacks and protect our personal data.

 

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