If you think that you’ll never be hit by a ransomware attack, think again. The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) received 61 reports of ransomware attacks in 2020, almost twice what was reported the year before. One of the possible reasons for the spike is the rise in Work From Home (WFH) arrangements, where many Singaporeans may be working with poorly secured set-ups.
Unless proper safeguards are put in place, no one is immune to the risk of ransomware. To avoid any invasions of your personal data and potential financial loss from a ransomware attack, prevention is your best digital security strategy. This guide will take you through the basics of ransomware, how it spreads, and how best to guard yourself against it.
What is ransomware?
There are two main types of ransomware, namely locker ransomware, which locks your device or computer, and crypto ransomware, which restricts access to personal data and files through encryption. The objective is the same: preventing access to your personal files.
After holding a victim’s personal files hostage, the attacker then demands a ransom from them to regain access to the data, with instructions on how to pay for the decryption key. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, payable to cybercriminals often through untraceable cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. This kind of malware can also have a built-in timer with a payment deadline, where the price to unlock the data increases with time.
How ransomware infections happen and spread through the web
One of the most common delivery systems for ransomware is spam email. It all begins with a seemingly well-intentioned email that contains malicious links or attachments. Once you click the link or download the attachment, a ransomware downloader is stored on the computer without your knowledge.
This ransomware downloader then copies the ransomware program to your system network through backdoor entry. When a device is successfully compromised, malware blocks the screen or encrypts data stored on the disk and a ransom demand with payment details is displayed to the victim.
How to prevent ransomware
Ransomware is a constantly evolving global threat in the cybersecurity landscape and digital hubs like Singapore are particularly vulnerable. A report from CSA showed an emerging trend of more sophisticated and targeted ransomware attacks. Do not risk financial loss by becoming a victim of ransomware. Here are a few tips that will keep you protected:
- Do not store important data in only one location. Create regular backups of it on another hard drive and in the cloud.
- Always keep your software and OS updated. These updates usually contain patches for novel security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious ransomware.
- Adjust your browser’s security and privacy settings for increased protection. Remove outdated plugins from your browser and use an ad-blocker to prevent the threat of malicious ads.
- Avoid opening spam or suspicious emails from senders that you do not know. Also, never open or download any unverified links or attachments.
- Always turn to trusted and verified websites for credible download sources. Such websites have trust markers that help you determine their authenticity.
How anti-ransomware can help you avoid ransomware attacks
With ransomware becoming more prevalent in Singapore, the need for protection against it has never been greater. It is essential to employ a top antivirus that has a comprehensive in-built anti-ransomware security feature like ESET Internet Security or ESET NOD32 Antivirus.
An anti-ransomware feature performs an inhibitory function, by monitoring the system for suspicious behaviour common to all ransomware such as file encryption. It promotes system security by scanning the system for unexpected behaviour, such as a new software attempting to encrypt your files. ESET Advanced Memory Scanner lets you monitor the behaviour of malicious processes without any compromise in processing speeds.
Anti-phishing also restricts emails that contain redirects to malicious websites designed to steal your personal data. Robust content scanning and email filtering serve to prevent any ransomware scams from reaching you and your family.
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