While there is a lot of focus on personal hacks and direct scams, there are few places outside of corporate cybersecurity departments where ransomware attacks are discussed. But, since such attacks became more frequent even for individuals, it is time for everybody to take measures against them.
Ransomware works off collected data or permissions and is used to blackmail the victim to either return the information or not to spread it further. And, unlike regular hacking or snooping, it is almost always targeted.
Generally, there are three types of ransomware attacks:
- Industrial Espionage Ransomware
- Infrastructure and Terrorist Ransomware
- Private Information Ransomware
The first two may be a lot larger in scale and can compromise both companies and even entire countries. But, unlike for the third category, the victims in the first two have whole teams dedicated to cybersecurity and information protection.
Private users need to use individual premium tools like those provided by Le VPN, as well as cybersecurity tricks to keep themselves safe. Not only do we lack the proficiency, but we very often lack time to bother with the probabilities of such attacks.
What Are Ransomware Attacks?
Because they are usually targeted against a particular system or individual, no two attacks are the same in execution. But, the goal is always the same. The hacker wants to steal sensitive information with which they can either threaten, blackmail, or hold the victim at ransom until they pay up.
This doesn’t need to be something like unpublished plans or internal memos. Stealing credentials is the easiest way to hold a whole system at ransom. And, if the victim doesn’t pay, the system goes down.
In personal cases, this is usually done with sensitive and private data rather than information. In many cases, private pictures or videos are stolen and held for ransom, especially when it comes to celebrities.
Most Complex Systems are Under the Biggest Threat
This is obvious even for those who don’t deal with cybersecurity on a regular basis. But, what makes the system complex is not just the size. Many of the largest systems on the Planet are very homogenous and can’t be cracked as easily.
But, if there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of people with access to different parts of the system, the threat grows exponentially. Usually, what makes a complex system is a large number of users or operators that are all interconnected with some degree of clearance.
Ransomware is placed key points to collect information or take over the system. In time, it spreads like a virus (which it is) and gives complete control to the hacker.
Individuals Can Be Targeted as Well
While we usually don’t see our devices and information as overly complex, even an individual can have dozens of services with different clearance to access that system if you have your computer, smartphone, and maybe a console and IoT, that leaves a lot to be attacked.
The last line of defense here should be having a good VPN provider. But, you should also invest some time into cyber hygiene. You should have a good grasp of your passwords and apps and make sure that none of them are interconnected.
This takes a four-fold plan to protect your personal and your data integrity.
How to Protect from Ransomware Attacks?
Even with the best VPN and best anti-virus software, no system will be 100% safe from all attacks. But, there are ways to make yourself not as affected by any attack. Even if you are hacked, there are ways to leave your data and personal files untouched.
But, this requires a bit of legwork, especially when it comes to social media and work-related files.
While it is best to do everything on a clean slate, including your PC and smartphone, that usually won’t be possible, still, you should start scrubbing all of the unnecessary data and systemizing where your files are stored.
It is best to buy a set of USB sticks for the work-related files that will stay disconnected when not in use. All images in your iCloud on iOS or Dropbox for Android should be transferred like this as well and purged from the cloud regularly.
Once you know where everything is, you can start building up your defenses. For one, you will need to update your OS on all devices and ensure that firewalls are up. Then, install a VPN, good anti-virus, and anti-malware software.
You should also make certain that your VPN has a kill switch and that it can’t be interrupted by something.
Although the USB stick or external drive system is the most secure, it is not the only option to keep your files safe and segmented. It is possible to keep different cloud services separate at all times and use them instead.
But, in that case, you can’t have any system tying them together, such as your email address or the browser itself.
If you have information that can be stolen, keep hard copies. All projects, receipts, and similar documents that will be needed at a point should have a digital copy on a disconnected drive or device.
Then, even if you get hacked, you still have access to your necessary files.
Even if you are not a company, you should take care of your personal files, not only your data. While a premium provider like Le VPN will allow you to protect both, there are other things you will need to do to prevent those embarrassing old photos from falling into the wrong hands.
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