Understanding Phishing Attacks Can Help You Avoid Ransomware

Understanding Phishing Attacks Can Help You Avoid Ransomware
Post Menu and Details.

Words: 1016

Reading time: ~4 minutes

Spending time online can be a fun way to interact with others and learn about the world. It can also be something you do for work, depending on the type of job you have. But whether you’re using the company’s software suite or browsing online forums, your computer is vulnerable to various kinds of attacks. Some of the most common types of attacks try to get into your computer without your knowledge, or they use a technique called “phishing” to get your information, so they can use it to their own advantage.

What is a Phishing Attack?

A phishing attack happens when a hacker is looking for passwords, logins, and other types of personal information. If they can get enough information about you, or they can get you to click on a link to do something that seems innocent, like take a survey or reset a password, they can get a lot of access to your online life, and sometimes to your computer itself and the files that are on it. These attacks can target individuals, but more dedicated attacks often target businesses and organizations.

All a hacker needs are for one person at a company to give them access to the company’s computer systems. It can happen accidentally, especially if the person being targeted doesn’t realize that they’re being asked for something unreasonable. They may see a request from a person they think they know, such as a boss or coworker, but it could be coming from a spoofed email that’s not actually legitimate. But with just a few clicks, the hacker now has all the access they want because they went “phishing.”

What is Ransomware?

There are a lot of different things a hacker can do with the information they get from phishing. For individuals, it could be stealing their credit card or other financial information, or even using their identity. For companies, it can be demanding something of them to regain access to what they value, such as accounts, files, and client information. Ransomware is one of the ways that hackers do this because the company has to pay a “ransom” to get access again.

Understanding how to spot RYUK ransomware on your computer, for example, can help you avoid falling victim to the “pay to get it back” schemes that a lot of hackers try to create. Many businesses just pay to get their files back, instead of trying to find ways around the ransomware, which is a program that is placed on their computer. There are ways to remove these kinds of programs, although hackers are getting savvier with the ways they get into systems and what they do to those systems once there.

How Does Ransomware Hurt Businesses?

How Does Ransomware Hurt Businesses

There are a couple of big ways that RYUK and other types of ransomware hurt businesses. The first way is that they cause a lot of stress, strain, and hassle for the owners and employees of the business. That stress can spill over to clients, too, if those clients find out or are told that their personal information may have been breached. Since companies store a lot of information about their clients, it can be all too easy for that information to end up in the hands of people who are determined to misuse it.

Another way that ransomware like RYUK and other types hurts businesses is through the financial toll they take. Companies that pay the ransom get restored access to their files. Companies that fight back often have to pay large sums of money anyway because they need high-end professionals in the computer industry to find ways around the ransomware itself. That can take a lot of time, and sometimes it’s not possible to get back everything that was hacked without some data being destroyed.

Of course, there are also the clients who will stop doing business with the company once their information has been compromised. Not every customer of a company understands that even the best systems have vulnerabilities, and RYUK ransomware can end up in computer systems from an accident or simple mistake. Companies that are hacked often lose business when that hack becomes public knowledge, and many companies also pay for credit monitoring services for clients after an information breach, as well.

Are Phishing and Ransomware Problems for Individuals?

Companies are big targets for ransomware and the phishing expeditions that lead to it. But individuals are also at risk. Especially for those who aren’t as computer-savvy, emails saying that a password needs reset or someone has sent them a greeting card, message, or video can lead them to click on something that makes them vulnerable to RYUK ransomware and other types of hacking.

The best course of action for anyone who receives an unknown email is to avoid clicking links or providing personal information. Reaching out to the company that allegedly sent the email can also help to clear up any phishing confusion.

Tips to Avoid Phishing Attacks

Don’t enter your information on an unsecured site

Don’t enter sensitive information or download files from a website that does not begin with “https” or does not display a closed padlock icon next to the URL. Phishing scams may not be targeted at sites without security certificates, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Updates shouldn’t be ignored

It can be frustrating to receive a large number of update messages, and it can be tempting to ignore them or put them off. This is not a good idea. It is common for patches and updates to be released to keep pace with modern cyber-attacks by patching security holes. You could be at risk for phishing attacks if you don’t update your browser because of known vulnerabilities that could have easily been avoided.

Pop-ups are tempting, so don’t fall for them

In addition to being annoying, pop-ups are often linked to malware as part of phishing attacks. Free ad-blocker software can now be downloaded and installed on most browsers, which will automatically block most malicious pop-ups. If one manages to bypass the ad-blocker, do not click! Sometimes pop-ups will try to deceive you with where the “Close” button is located, so always check for an “x” on the corner.

Thank you for reading!