Encrypting your files is a good thing, right? Almost always, we often talk about the importance of encrypting data on your computer so that it cannot be stolen; however, new cyber-attackers are using encryption as a method of demanding ransom from victims.
The software contained in that attachment, dubbed “Crypto-Ransomware”, is used to encrypt the data on your computer, and displays a message on screen telling you that there exists only a single copy of the decryption key, and that if you do not pay a certain ransom fee in bitcoin, the key will be deleted, and your files will be lost forever.
While to many this will seem like a very ineffective way of extorting people, the reality is that phishing attacks make up about two thirds of all cyber-attacks.
Further to that, the sad reality remains that a large amount of people are uneducated in the risks of opening phishing mail.
In a survey of 150,000 phishing emails by Verizon partners, almost a quarter of people surveyed opened phishing emails, and 10% opened attachments.
Crazy though it may sound, one in ten people will open applications that they have absolutely no knowledge about.
Naturally the first step to take in protecting yourself against crypto-ransomware is to self-filter your emails.
Most phishing emails will appear in your spam folders, so don’t touch them, however some may break through into your main inbox.
To deal with those, you really have to think before opening your emails.
Remember the old saying that “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is”.
By doing this you can remove almost all off the potential harms of phishing scams.
However say you have been fooled, and you have opened the phishing email and downloaded the attachment. A good antivirus program will save you 90% of the time, by warning you before you run software from unverified sources. Using a reliable cloud based backup of your data will also save you here, as you don’t need to pay for decrypting data that you can just get from your backups.
As well as this, if that is not enough protection for you, a program called Decryptolocker will work most of the time, as it provides a master decryption key for cryptolocker 2.0, the most common application that falls under the crypto-ransomware branch.
That said I feel I must restate the fact that the best way to protect yourself from phishing attacks is to not open emails that appear suspicious.
Be on your guard, the survey by Verizon showed that crypto-ransomware was 45 times more common in 2014 than the previous year; it would appear that it is here for the foreseeable future.
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