A disturbing global trend in recent years is the increase in popularity and potency of ransomware viruses. Ransomware is a fairly new type of virus that finds and encrypts your files and won’t decrypt until you pay a ransom to the developer. Most recently the Petya ransomware virus targeted several hospitals and government buildings taking in about $10,000 worth of payments. WannaCry developers took in around $50,000 earlier this Spring, and new copycat variations of each are popping up rapidly.
Though early forms of ransomware have been around since 1989, the first encrypted locker software to hit the web surfaced in 2013. CryptoLocker, and its primary creator are responsible for over 100 million dollars in losses according to the FBI. The Russian hacker responsible is still at large.
We all have an antivirus software installed, so how do these threats keep spreading? McAfee put together a list of the most common ways.
The best way to protect yourself is to remain vigilant when using the internet. Unfortunately, no matter how much you spend on antivirus or how often you update Windows, even the most tech-savvy user is the weakest part of a network. We must all continue to be careful when opening emails and following links, even if they come from coworkers or friends.