How Safe Are You? Ransomware and Cybersecurity

Are you a computer savvy who understands everything about malware? If you are, then you probably understand the turn of events in May 2017. If you are not, on the other hand, then you must be intrigued by the events of the said date. In 2017, the computing world received one of the biggest shocks, a malware attack on computers of individuals, banks and even companies. This was not just a regular malware attack but an attack that made the victims lose millions in return for their data.

What happened is that WannaCry ransomware wreaked havoc on individuals and companies systems around the world and around 400, 000 computers and in 150 nations, locking them out of their computers and every data in the computer being extremely hard to unlock it using today’s technology and commercially available equipment.

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What is Ransomware?

You might be wondering what ransomware is and why it could not be traced. Well, in cases of ransomware, just like in criminal and abduction cases, a perpetrator takes control of the data in your computer system and asks for a ransom before releasing the data. Given that almost everyone store data in their computer systems, there are more chances that the perpetrator will extort money from victims.

Cybercriminals understand the significance of personal data and have therefore come up with malware that floats freely across networks around the globe. Upon an attack, anyone relying on the system would be panicked and send the ransom asked right away, and once you pay, your files and system are decrypted.

Ransomware is not something new, it has been in the computing world for years and the only thing that has made more successful in recent years is that the cybercriminals ask for ransom which should be paid in cryptocurrency. If you understand the process in which the blockchain industry operates, then you should be able to know that once you send the ransom, then tracing the recipient is another complicated case.

Apart from WannaCry, other ransomware include but not limited to

  • BadRabbit
  • Fusob
  • Reveton
  • SamSam
  • HDDCryptor
  • Locky
  • CryptoLocker
  • CryptoWall
  • NotPetya
  • Petya
  • SimpleLocker

How Does Ransomware Work?

In most cases, it is done through phishing. The perpetrator will send a link to your emails, and upon reading, you note that it seems legitimate. Immediately you open the link; the malware will take control of your data and computer and ask for a ransom to decrypt them. It is just as in the case of receiving phone calls from numbers that are almost similar to those of companies which trick you into giving out your information. Once you grant access, the malware will ask you to verify your information by keying in your password, and once you give in your data, boom, you are looked out of your system.

Another way the attack can happen is through taking over your computing system and in this case, the weaknesses of your system’s security are exploited to gain access. Once either of the above has been achieved, you will get a notification informing you that your files have already been encrypted and you need to pay security tokens to decrypt them before you gain access back into your system. In other cases, the criminals will threaten to release the victim’s data if no payment is made.

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Who is a Target?

Anyone can be a target of cybercriminals. Companies, hospitals, and other organizations have a fear of data leakage are the most targeted, and since the cybercriminals understand that they will pay, more focus is on them. On an individual basis, it is a case of hit and miss, depending on whether the person has valuable data. In other cases, you might just be an arbitrary target who unknowingly opens an email.

How to keep your data safe

One of the essential things you are required to do is to be cautious of the emails you receive. You should never open an email if you are not certain of the source. Additionally, you should not give out data to a site you think is suspicious. One of the best ways to verify this is to ensure that the site’s information is on google search and that the HTML is safe. Updating your software and maintaining your cyber security and installing an antivirus in your system are also some of the measures that you can take.

Backing up your data

Although you can back up your data, this will not prevent ransomware from wreaking havoc. You will only access the data in case you get attacked and complications may arise in the huge organization.


Ransomware can attack any, and you need to be updated on the possible ways through which you can prevent such an attack. Although some emails may be sent to your spam folder, you will come across most of them, and if you are not cautious, you become a victim. Ransomware can be removed from your system; you will not get your encrypted data until you pay the ransom.

Also, there is no deadline to pay the ransom and usually, you are not guaranteed on the safety of your data. You definitely don’t want to be a victim of ransomware and pay some hundred or a thousand dollars to get your data back- Ensure you frequently update your system and that you have an active and effective antivirus.

About the Author


Hi All, I'm Nicola and I am part of the EuroSTAR team. I enjoy outdoor activities and martial arts, it's fun! I joined EuroSTAR in 2018 and am excited to meet new people every year during the conferences. Tester Friends are for life :)
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