What is ransomware and how do I protect myself against it?
Ransomware is one of the most dangerous online cyber threats and has the power to shut down
whole networks and cause havoc to businesses. We should all be aware of the risks of a ransomware
attack and how serious it could be to businesses.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software, also known as malware, that gains access to a user’s
computer or network and infects it by locking files, documents or systems. The information which is
being blocked is then held up for ransom until the user pays an agreed fee, which can be thousands
of pounds. If paid, the hacker will then give the user access to their files again by sharing a
decryption code or key. The motivation for ransomware attacks is almost always for financial gain,
they are rarely interested in stealing information or data. Hackers will also usually demand payment
via cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, to reduce the chance of them being identified.
What happens during a ransomware attack?
Usually, a ransomware attack will begin with an email that looks like it has come from a legitimate
source. The email will feature a link that users will be encouraged to click, as ransomware always
needs interaction from the user to activate. Once the user’s system has been compromised, certain
files or all files will be taken control of by malware and the user will no longer be able to access
The victim will then be contacted by the hacker, who will usually outline their financial demands.
Once the ransom is paid, the user’s data is usually restored, however, this does not always happen.
In general, hackers are true to their word when it comes to ransomware attacks, as if they never
kept their end of the bargain, users are less likely to hand over the cash. But, at the end of the day,
they are criminals, so they don’t always give the data back after getting their money.
When did ransomware attacks start and what is their history?
The first reported ransomware att