How Ransomware Works
Ransomware is another type of malware that is designed to take your computer hostage. As the name ransomware implies, the intruder takes over control of your computer and your files in exchange for money or other act of extortion. The purpose of the act is to force you to comply with the demands of the intruder in exchange for regaining control of your files and your PC in their original condition.
How It Works
There are many different forms of ransomware so the nature of the intrusion will depend upon the motives of the criminal who creates this type of malware. Generally, the intruder creates a malicious code just like they would to create other types of malware. The code is specifically designed to take control of your computer and then hijack all of your files. The files are then placed in an encrypted format so you no longer have access to them.
Following encryption of your files, you will most likely receive a demand for monetary compensation or other similar threat in return for your hijacked files. Some times the monetary amount is small and other times it can amount to hundreds of dollars. The intruder profits even if the amount is small due to the number of computers they are infecting with ransomware.
The demand for money is often requested to be paid through an online service such as PayPal and some intruders even go as far as asking for a money order to be sent to an address where you are unable to track them down. If you fail to pay, the intruder is capable of creating additional malicious code that will destroy the content of your PC a little bit at a time until you pay up.
Another type of ransomware presents itself in the form of a trojan which scans all of your PC's directories and drives, and then automatically encrypts all of your files so you cannot access them. The Trojan places the finishing touch on the intrusion by leaving a ransom note.
Where Does Ransomware Come From?
Ransomware is created by scammers who are well educated in computer programming. It can enter your PC through an email attachment or through your browser if you happen to visit a website that is infected with this type of malware. It can also access your PC if the intruder has penetrated the network.
How to Avoid Ransomware
You can take steps to avoid ransomware by keeping your antivirus program updated and ensuring that it scans your computer periodically for any new viruses and malware. It is a good idea to make sure that your antivirus program includes ant-spyware and anti-adware applications; however, anti-ransomware is not necessary. Additionally, you should employ a firewall, configure your browser security settings, use the latest patch updates, and enable your pop-up blocker. As a final step, always backup your files with a peripheral device such as an external hard drive.