Ransomware is a form of malware (a virus) that encrypts files, or denies the user the ability to access their device, or both. There are many forms of ransomware, but they nearly all lead to a demand for payment of a ransom for access to be allowed. The ransomware may also be accompanied by the theft of data and a threat to post this information online.
Attacks typically come in the form of phishing emails, downloading free software, and remote access scams (where a cybercriminal, posing as a trusted organisation, is provided access to a device and installs ransomware whilst in control). Once the ransomware has been executed, such as by clicking on links or attachments, the criminals have largely automated their whole process. Pop-ups or other on-screen messaging will alert the user to “a virus” or “encryption” or the computer being "locked”. A contact point will be provided, typically with a short timeframe to respond to the ransom demand.
There are two ways to detect ransomware:
Be aware: If a ransomware message is received via email, be sure that is a genuine email and not simply a phishing attempt.
Disconnect your device immediately, including removing anything plugged into it (cables, USBs, dongles), disabling any wireless connections (Wifi. Bluetooth, hotspot, or mobile data), and disconnecting from any other devices on your network (such as laptops, printers or modems).
Take photos (on a non-infected device) of any communications from the criminals, including pop-ups, payment demands, cryptocurrency wallet addresses and websites.
It is possible to stop ransomware from continuing to run on a device with Microsoft Windows 10 by following these instructions from the ACSC. However, if you are using an Apple device, or if your device is not responding, or you do not feel confident following the ACSC instructions, simply hold down the power button on your device to force it to shut down.
Make sure the malware is removed from your device before reconnecting to the internet, joining a network, plugging anything back in, or installing backups of your data.
You may wish to try to decrypt the files on your device. There are hundreds of ransomware types, and in many cases only the criminals have the tools to decrypt. You can try:
If you are considering paying the ransomware, keep in mind:
Remember that removing the ransomware from your device may not be the end of the attack on your business. Consider all the information that the cybercriminal had access to on your device, and assume that all accounts have been compromised. This could include your emails, bank account details (including logins and customer reference numbers), tax file numbers, driver licence details, and superannuation details.
Information stored on your device most likely also includes information about your employees and customers. Contact your IDCARE small business adviser to discuss how to protect your employees and customers, and whether the ransomware infection is also considered a notifiable date breach.
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