What is Ransomware?
Ransomware, also called “scareware”, is a new type of malware holds infected devices such as computers or smartphones hostage by preventing the user from further using the device until an action is completed, like paying a fee or completing a survey. Some are cleverly disguised as FBI or local police authorities claiming illegal activity has been detected on the device and that a fine must be paid in order to avoid prosecution and obtain access to the files again.
Other forms of scareware may present themselves as antivirus or clean-up software that claim to have detected malware or other issues on the device, mandating that the user pay a fee in order to fix them. These types of malware typically bombard the user with annoying pop-up ads but do not disable the computer.
Like other types of malware, ransomware is typically contracted from visiting a malicious website or a website that has been hacked. However, there are reports of a virus called Svpeng that preys upon smartphone users by targeting certain financial institution mobile banking apps. Note: Amplify CU is not a target.
- Installing and continuously updating antivirus software for your PC and mobile devices
- Regularly backing up the files on both desktop computers & mobile devices with an external hard drive
- Being especially wary of apps from third-party sites or unreliable sources
As with other viruses and malware, always be suspicious of emails and attachments from unknown sources or even emails from people you know that contain awkward phrasing, links to websites with strange URLs, or other red flags.
If You Suspect You've Downloaded Ransomware
Do not pay the criminals. There is no guarantee that paying the requested fine will recover the files. In fact, it may expose the victim to even more malware and possibly identity theft.
Depending on the type of ransomware contracted, removing it can be an arduous task. Computer users that aren’t familiar with removing malware should consider consulting their local computer specialists for assistance.