21st Century Blackmail

With all the news about Cyberweapons and Cryptoware, all the attacks with Petya and Wannacry. It’s important to be educated and prepared for these types of attacks. Here are some quick tips.



1) What is Ransomware?

Ransomware has one goal: make money. It’s the biggest technology crime in today’s world, and continues to grow in popularity. Infected computers are scanned for common and important document types, and once found, they are hijacked using nearly impossible to break encryption. The data is at the mercy of whomever holds the encryption key.

2) How does it get into your system?

As with any computer infection, typical delivery methods are used: trojans, worms, or viruses. These require a vulnerability, or hole, in your system, which allows the infection to run freely. Be sure to use safe computer habits: antivirus software and don’t open email attachments you weren’t expecting.

3) How does one pay the ransom?

Digital currency, such as Bitcoin & Ethereum are how the hackers demand ransom payment. These are decentralized, meaning no bank or person has influence over the market, and they are highly anonymous.

More can be found about Cryptocurrency here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptocurrency


4) Are you assured of getting a key to unlock your files?

Unfortunately no. As with any ransom crime, once they have the money, there no grantee they will hold up their end.

5) What steps can one take to secure their systems?

Even with the best security practices and software, it’s still possible to be hacked. The most important factor for protecting yourself from ransomware is having backup data stored off of the infected device. Personally, I use USB hard drives; being sure to keep it unplugged from the device while not actively backing up. The infection spreads to any attached drives as well as mapped network drives.

Keeping up with daily backups can be a bit of a chore. For those who don’t mind their data in someone else’s hands, cloud backups can be a great solution. The main issue I have is with the overall size of my backups. Generally, I keep the most important and frequently accessed data synchronized with my Microsoft OneDrive account. While using the USB drives for larger data, saving on network usage.

For more detailed information about Ransomeware – Wannacry specifically – check out this Computerphile clip.