Ransomware is a malicious malware that blocks access to a file, device, or system and demands a ransom fee to regain access. This is an illegal money-making method that utilizes deceptive links in websites, emails, or instant messages. Ransomware is a great challenge affecting most online users and hence you need to be educated on this matter to be able to prevent it from happening to you or to know how to navigate if you become an unlucky victim.
The effects of ransomware are immense, especially when it affects emergency services or critical infrastructures and can cost you a lot of money as you pay the ransom fee, not to mention that you might eventually lose your files. Cryptolocker and extortion malware is the worst nightmare of any organization that has important data.

This guide aims to help you understand the sharpness of this malware's claws and how to navigate it in the cybersphere.

Forms of ransomware

The forms of ransomware are derived from how the malware works. Malware payloads are injected in different ways and cause serious damage to infected computer users.

• Crypto ransomware
The crypto-ransomware infiltrates the computer network and limits access to personal data and files. This form of malware is very smart and it evaluates your data to find the most vulnerable ones- those that have not been backed up. Vulnerable data that may be encrypted to limit access includes videos, photos, financial statements and large work projects.
This malware doesn’t lock all parts of the computer, but only the files that have been encrypted and you can only recover your data when you pay the ransom since the codes used are very complex. The hackers use emails sent structured with a sense of urgency with the need of the recipient to protect themselves from some crime. To make them look legit, they are designed to appear to come from a legitimate source such as Microsoft, Apple, or PayPal.
This uses either asymmetric or symmetric file encryption. The symmetric uses similar encryption and decryption codes, while asymmetric uses public keys to encrypt data and private keys to decrypt data.

• Locker ransomware
The locker ransomware locks the mobile device or computer and the user cannot use it without first getting the secret code from the hacker. The locker ransomware uses a screen lock where you cannot access anything in your device and you only see a continuous message from the hacker displaying on the screen with a count down.
The good thing about this form of a ransomware attack is that the malware doesn’t infiltrate the computer network and thus, it does not affect the files present. It is easy to find the malware and regain access to your device without necessarily paying the ransom. Due to the ease of recovering your computer, criminals usually use social engineering tactics to convince the victims. Some ransomware pretends to be a law enforcement agency that threatens to issue fines due to illegal online activities such as child trafficking or piracy. The types of this ransomware form include browser locking, Windows locker and Android locker ransomware.

Is it possible to decrypt ransomware?
Yes, it is possible to decrypt ransomware in some cases. The ransomware works by blocking access to your files by encrypting the data into a form that your programs cannot read. Some online tools have been developed for ransomware decryption. However, it is not a guarantee that the available tools will be able to encrypt your particular strain of ransomware on your computer.
The first step is to identify the type of ransomware affecting your computer by comparing your encrypted files and ransomware notes against ransomware lists available on the internet. Once you have identified the type of ransomware affecting your computer, go ahead and search for decrypting tools online for that specific ransomware for ransomware recovery. You can always get in touch with us through chat/email if you need advice and we will try our best to assist.

Is it possible to retrieve the data after a ransomware attack?
There are only two ways to retrieving your data after a ransomware attack. Besides paying the ransom, which is highly discouraged, you can recover your data by restoring it from the data backup. Get a secure backup for your data and in case of an attack, you can restore it by choosing to restore data after the attack.

How can you prevent ransomware?
Prevention is always better as you will have saved yourself from this struggle. The easiest way to protect your files is by having a good plan and having smart practices. You can do the following:
• Have frequent and comprehensive data backups for important files.
• Exercise cyber hygiene and be cautious when opening emails and links.
• Isolate critical computers from your network to prevent spreading in case of a ransomware attack.
• Install anti-virus and anti-malware software to block any downloads.

As ransomware attack incidences are on the rise, you need to be cautious since it is often hard to recover your files as most hackers don’t unlock the access even after paying the ransom. Even though it is hard to prevent ransomware due to well-crafted phishing emails and drive-by-downloads from otherwise trusted sites, educating yourself and employees on cyber hygiene reduces the risk of attack. Have a secure backup and data recovery strategy to recover your files after an attack.