Malicious software, or “malware,” plays an integral role in a host of online scams. With malware propagation heavily factoring into countless phishing and hacking schemes, every internet user needs to be on guard against malicious software. Although there are many varieties of malware, few are more insidious and difficult to combat than ransomware. This increasingly prevalent form of malware derives its name from its propensity for hijacking devices and holding them for ransom. In order for victims to regain control of infected devices, they’re typically required to share sensitive financial data with disreputable characters. In the quest to keep your personal information and internet-enabled devices out of the wrong hands, avoid the following types of ransomware at all costs.
Doxware is among the most devious variants of ransomware. A single doxware infection can result in full-on identity theft and/or financial ruination, thereby making it imperative to avoid. Like most other forms of malware, doxware finds its way onto victims’ devices through email links, suspicious websites and ads that incorporate Flash or Java. Website owners looking to prevent doxware – and all other forms of malware – from infecting their visitors can read all about cloud-based security solutions in a SiteLock review. Deriving its name from doxing – i.e., the practice of putting someone’s most sensitive personal information out in the open -doxware makes copies of its victims’ most important files and sends them to the hacker’s computer. Should the victim refuse to financially compensate the hacker, he or she will post the stolen files on a variety of public websites. In some instances, hackers who utilize doxware won’t stop at a single ransom, opting instead to treat victims as regular sources of income. After all, as long as this person has your files, you’re essentially at their mercy.
True to its name, scareware tricks its victims by playing on their fears. Scareware begins its assault by informing victims that viruses or other pressing security issues have been discovered on their devices. These warnings usually appear in the form of persistent pop-up messages and will often fill up the screens of infected devices. These messages also claim that the only way to combat your newly discovered security issues is purchasing fake anti-virus software. Upon following the attached link and sharing your credit card information, one of two things will happen. You will either receive nothing in return or you will be given an installation file for the fraudulent software. However, this “software” is usually just flimsily disguised malware.
Deriving its name from the eponymous James Bond film, GoldenEye typically targets businesses instead of individuals. This sophisticated form of ransomware is spread through targeted campaigns on HR departments and can create considerable problems for any business infected by it. Once a file containing GoldenEye is downloaded, a macro is immediately launched and proceeds to encrypt files on the targeted computer. Each encrypted file subsequently has a random eight-character extension added to the end. Once the encryption is complete, the master boot record (MBR) of the infected computer’s hard drive is modified with a custom boot loader. As is the case with other forms of ransomware, access to the targeted computer is not given to the owner until money is paid.
Locker has one distinct difference that sets it apart from most other forms of ransomware. Instead of encrypting the filesfound on infected devices, it simply locks victims out of their devices. This entails locking a device’s user interface until such time as a ransom is paid. Once a device has been infected with locker, its capabilities will be very limited, and the victim will only be able to use it to communicate with the hacker.
Malware presents a clear and present danger to the online safety of millions of internet users. Each day, malicious software claims countless new victims and finds its way onto a plethora of devices. While all malicious software is bad, few pieces of it are nastier than ransomware. Ransomware acts quickly, leaving victims little time to consider their situation before proceeding to wreak havoc on their devices. Outfitting your internet-enabled devices with top-shelf security software and exercising common sense are the best preventative measures you can take against ransomware infections.