Malicious software, or “malware,” is at the center of a wide range of online scams. From phishing to site-jacking, malware is a favorite tool of hackers, scam artists and many other cybercriminals. Malware also comes in a variety of forms, with ransomware being among the hardest to combat. Once a piece of ransomware is installed on a device, that device becomes its prisoner. Not only does internet access become highly limited, the device’s functionality is impaired to the point of making it useless. Regaining full access to an infected device requires victims to comply with ransom demands, hence the name “ransomware.” If protecting your internet-enabled devices and personal information is a priority, you’d be wise to avoid the following types of ransomware.
One of the most prominent varieties of ransomware, Cerber is typically spread via malicious email attachments. More often than not, these attachments come in the form of Microsoft Word documents. After infecting a device, Cerber proceeds to encrypt the victim’s files using RC4 and RSA algorithms before renaming them with a “.cerber” or random file extension. Once it’s on your device, Cerber is able to work its magic regardless of whether or not you’re connected to the internet. Powering down or unplugging the device isn’t going to stop it, either. A message explaining the situation will subsequently appear on your desktop, and instructions on paying the ransom will appear in your folders in both HTML and TXT formats.
Emerging in 2016, FLocker is a fairly new player on the ransomware scene. FLocker is unique, in that it exclusively targets Android devices, like phones and tablets, instead of computers. It’s also been known to infect Android-powered televisions, effectively limiting the entertainment options of its victims. FLocker makes its presence known by displaying a fake law enforcement warning that informs victims that illegal material has been viewed on their devices. Instead of money, payment is demanded in the form of iTunes vouchers. Anyone with Android devices is advised to be on the lookout for FLocker.
Developed in 2012, Reveton ransomware bears a number of similarities to FLocker. Upon infecting a computer, the device will become locked, thereby preventing the victim from logging in. A legitimate-looking message will appear to inform the victim that illegal activity, like software piracy, has been discovered on their computer. In order to avoid “prosecution” and regain access to their PC, the victim must pay a fine – i.e., a ransom. However, it doesn’t always end there. Some variations of Reveton contain password-stealing software that remains active regardless of whether the demands have been met. Since Reveton can be spread through unsecured websites, it behooves every safety-conscious site owner to look into effective security solutions. An information SiteLock review can teach you more.
Another relative newcomer, WannaCry made its debut in 2017. A highly effective ransomware worm, it targets Windows computers and is able to infect them by exploiting a vulnerability in the operating system’s server message block (SMB) protocol. WannaCry infects computers as a dropper – that is, a self-contained program that automatically extracts various components that are embedded within itself. In the case of WannaCry, these components consist of Tor, files with encryption keys, and an application for encrypting and decrypting data. Once an infection has occurred, the victim will be greeted with a message informing them that their files have been encrypted and are no longer accessible. The victim is then instructed to pay a ransom via Bitcoin in order to decrypt the files. Although a patch for WannaCry has been released, Windows users who don’t regularly install updates are still at risk for infection.
As cybercriminals continue to up the ante, ransomware is quickly becoming one of their most effective weapons. Making matters worse is the fact that many anti-virus programs can’t remove ransomware once it’s found its way onto a device. This is why all safety-conscious internet users need to take preventative measures against ransomware infections. Ransomware is a royal pain to get rid of, and if it infects one of your devices, the consequences can be disastrous. Setting up a top-tier cyber security apparatus and exercising caution when browsing the web can go a long way in keeping ransomware at bay.