You know we live in a crazy world when ransomware attacks get treated like terrorism investigations. Over the past couple of years, hackers have tried to attack pretty much every important website, server, and company. They have succeeded in most of their attempts because the world was not ready for the coronavirus pandemic.
Everyone was too focused and afraid not to catch the virus and forgot about another threat that had always been lurking in the shadows – hackers.
Over the past three years, the number of successful cyberattacks has increased massively. The statistics are enough to make you question whether having a website is actually worth it.
It’s almost certain that you’ll suffer from a hack. It’s only a matter of time before it happens.
Hackers are getting smarter
The physical world is merging with the virtual one, and the border between the two is slowly getting eradicated. Most people can’t function for a day without their phones, and the amount of information these small devices have about our lives is terrifying.
Bad actors are aware of this, and they’re using ransomware to make a profit. The goal of ransomware is to encrypt your data and make it impossible to access it unless you give them money. Even if you pay them, there’s no guarantee that they’ll decrypt your information.
As bad as it is for individuals, it’s even worse for manufacturers, oil and electricity companies, water providers, and medical facilities. There’s no ethics when the person on the other side of the screen is untraceable and anonymous. That’s the scary part about human nature. Hackers don’t know where to draw the line.
4 ways to protect yourself
The best way to protect yourself against ransomware is to know that it exists, and hackers will try every trick in the book to get you to click on their malicious links. Often, they monitor subjects for months without attempting anything.
During that time, they’re observing behavior patterns and how you interact with the web in general. Only after they have a clear sense of what types of links you click on they’ll proceed with an attack. Complex social engineering is involved in making it seem like you’re talking to a real person.
Most of the time, they will be using a recruitment platform to offer you a job with great benefits and a fantastic salary tailored to mimic what you’re already doing. During the recruitment process, they will send you a PDF, Word, or Excel file, and all it takes is for you to download and open it.
These files can be embedded with an executable that will plant ransomware on your device, and you can get locked out of your computer or phone. It might seem like that’s not a lot, but if you’ve got passcodes for a massive company, it can cost millions of dollars. In the case of Axie Infinity, a similar situation cost them half a billion dollars.
Use a virtual private network
A lot of people underestimate just how important having a VPN is. The technology behind the software was developed for military purposes, which means that it’s impenetrable when it comes to safety and security. VPNs became widespread and popular recently when the technology became accessible to major corporations and then cheap enough for the general public.
A virtual private network helps to hide your identity online by masking your IP address. Some services even block trackers, hide ads, scan files for malware, and even check websites to make sure they are secure. Getting a full package is a no-brainer, especially if you’re dealing with sensitive information daily and from remote locations.
Know how to handle your passwords
Unless you use a password manager, you’re probably using a variation of your main password for every website login. That’s not an ideal thing to do. If a hacker gets their hands on one of your passwords, they will be able to brute force their way into all of your accounts and wreak havoc on your digital data.
Most websites now have a multi-factor authentication option, and it would be wise to use it. You can receive an email or SMS or use an app like Google Authenticator to ensure no one else can log into your account, even if they crack one of your passwords. Biometric data is a good option, too, because you would have to use your fingerprint or face scan to log into an account.
Back up your data regularly
Backing up your data regularly goes a long way when you’re dealing with ransomware hackers. Their entire mode of operation is to lock your devices and make you unable to access important files. However, having those files on another server located halfway around the globe is a great way to limit the leverage they will try to use against you.
Nowadays, cybercriminals make a copy of your data before encrypting it to scare you that they’ll release it onto the dark web or sell it to other bad actors. Having another copy of your own makes the problem slightly better because you won’t have to worry about waiting for them to decrypt your locked assets.