A virus infects a computer and does all sorts of bizarre little things to it. Some of these things are quite harmless or a mild nuisance. Others can be catastrophic, with potential real-life consequences. Many business leaders have witnessed the unfolding of a virus targeting credit card inputs and consumer data. But, there is an entirely different manifestation of this malware type that is, quite possibly, the most malicious of all time.
Ransomware is quite complicated, but it basically boils down to the following. A virus gets into a computer by email or some other proxy type scenario. It “enters” the computer and subsequently encrypts everything on it and in the network by connecting through the web. This means that a user cannot access anything on their computer because it is encrypted. The virus then receives the data, sends it to a Control and Control server space, and forces it to remain encrypted.
What is the end result? This is where the ransomware terminology becomes from. The developer or sender of the encryption virus will actually demand a ransom to have the content unlocked and released. The business leader pays the amount and (hopefully) the data is released. The ransom titling came from the aftereffects and the end goal of what this particular virus type seeks to accomplish. Many developers may never make an active threat, deciding instead to try to sell the information through a third party or encrypting the data without having the changes occur on the other end. There is no limit to what can happen once the data is “hijacked.”
Ransomware is incredibly dastardly and quite thought-provoking. Innovations go even further. Some manifestations do not even need the encryption key. Senders can encrypt data in an automated system, ultimately attacking many systems at once and trying to breach through. There is no easy Ransomware for Dummies solution to any of this. Users need to be extremely aware of where they download email attachments, as this is the most common way for ransomware to be sent. It has the lowest maintenance and it can brush right past people who are not paying attention.