The Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack has people buzzing about the scary technology at the heart of the story: Ransomware. The discussion has people raising questions about this form of Malware. What is Ransomware? How old is the Ransomware? How can Ransomware be avoided? What should someone do if their system is taken over by Ransomware?
The first case of Ransomware actually comes from 1989 and was committed by Joseph Popp using floppy discs sent by mail. This early form of Ransomware worked differently than its modern descendent works today.
Modern Ransomware gets into a user’s system via some sort of Trojan Horse or other Phishing scheme. Essentially a malicious actor, or “Hacker”, creates a website or an email that is a forgery of a legitimate trusted site. Once interacted with, the Ransomware creates a door for someone to snoop through the system.
Once something valuable is found, the Hacker then encrypts that part of the system, making it completely inaccessible to the user. With the locking of information usually comes the ransom demand itself; the user must pay X if they want, they want their system or data back. This all sounds scary, but there are ways to protect a system.
First, always have a back-up of data. Keeping an up-to-date back-up of a computer system is just good safety practice given how fragile, vulnerable, and valuable computers are. Especially with the growing awareness of Malware and Ransomware. This can include using hard-disk drives, solid state drives, and using data back-up systems, like a Cloud.
Secondly, users should also keep their operating systems and anti-virus systems current with software updates. These updates often come with patches to vulnerabilities in the older systems and help keep Hackers out.
Third, users should practice smart habits when dealing with suspicious emails, links, and downloadable files. Using a spam blocker in email inboxes is a good place to start. If any email asks for vital information or seems questionable, directly contact the group or person listed as the sender and confirm they sent the email in question. Being overly cautious is never a bad thing when cyber-security is in question.
Public cyber-attacks have made the public more aware of a threat they always faced online, but instead of panicking about Ransomware, people can follow simple preventative measures that maximize safety.
Carolina Data Recovery
Data Recovery Expert