Don’t be a Ramsomware Victim

June 26, 2017

As time progresses, technology is becoming more and more prominent in our lives. However, there is a downside to everything. As more people revolutionize new types of technology and software, more people are finding new ways to exploit these advancements and corrupt them for their own benefit. A growing trend and fight we have today is the War on Cyber Terrorism, in which hackers attempt to damage or destroy a computer network or system. In May, the biggest cyberattack in history took place. A ransomware, a type of malicious software that blocks access to the victim‘s data or threatens to publish or delete it until a ransom is paid, called WannaCry struck, attacking Windows computers. This malicious software targeted computers worldwide, encrypting its data and demanding payment in exchange for the decryption key to recover the data. ?Not only did this software affect businesses, but also banks and hospitals, where the loss of data affects the lives of everyday people. Affecting thousands of computers in over 150 countries, the WannaCry ransomware attack truly brings the importance of computer security to the spotlight.

In recent years, ransomware has become a popular practice, especially since many people do not backup their data as often as they should. You could even be attacked right now. This scenario begins from the click of an email that downloads a file containing the malware. Once this software is downloaded onto a computer, hackers can release an attack that gradually locks all the files it finds on the network, so that the user is unable to access the data on their computer. Then, instructions to retrieve the user’s data are given. Usually, in exchange for the decryption key, the hacker asks the user for payment through BitCoin, an untraceable digital currency. Although the hacker says that the user’s data will be decrypted in exchange for a ransom, it is not guaranteed that the hacker will provide the user with the decryption key. In addition, paying the hacker could just ‘feed the beast’ and encourage him or her to threaten the user again in the future. Therefore, paying a ransom would not be a smart choice to fight the malware. Since paying the hackers is not safe, the other option is to wipe your machine and restore it from backups.

Risking your computer from being infected with a ransomware is dangerous, making it ?important to always backup your data and update your operating system. The victims of the WannaCry ransomware attack were those who had older versions of the Windows Operating System. Especially in fields of operations that require the necessity of computers, it is crucial for all of those computers to be updated on the latest operating system because, if ransomware gets into one of those many computers, it will be able to affect all the data in the same network. All in all, our computers need to be ready to fight against ransomware attacks in the ongoing War on Cyber Terrorism.

<Ha Young Kong, 11th, Troy High>

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