What is “ransomware” and how do these attacks generally work?
We define as Ransomware all malware threats aiming to infect your system (mobile or computer) and restrict access to it. In order for the attackers to remove the restriction, their victim is usually asked to pay a certain amount of money. Sometimes, the attackers don’t only restrict access to the device itself but they are also capable of encrypting some of the user’s important documents or pictures.
The two most common ways used by the attackers are: sending an email with infected content (link or PDF containing a specific exploit) or injecting ads on specific websites. In the second scenario, it’s important for the user to know that he doesn’t necessarily have to click on the ad; just seeing it can turn him into a ransomware victim.
What’s your advice for users to avoid ransomware attacks?
First of all, keep all of your applications updated with the latest versions, use an updated antivirus on your device and do repeated backups on external drives. Be careful what programs, attachments, URLs you are opening. The good news is that if you manage to do all that and still get infected, having a backup will allow you to reboot your system and regain the control. No matter the situation, we recommend you to always report the incident to the police or to the corresponding authorities as this is a serious felony.
How does Avira help fight against ransomware on both computers and mobile devices?
Avira Antivirus Pro prevents users from becoming a target for ransomware attackers by blocking websites containing this kind of exploits and malicious files. Even when the user intends to execute a file containing new malware, it will first be checked by our Avira Protection Cloud for zero day threats.
Avira Antivirus Pro for Android also helps the user browse safely and performs hourly updates to make sure the user is fully protected.
We thus have everything in place for all Avira users to benefit from enhanced level of protection on all devices.
How do you see ransomware evolving in the future?
Unfortunately, there’s an entire cybercrime industry branch being built on ransomware attacks, as the attackers can raise millions of dollars from their victims. In the future, we expect them to get even more aggressive, up to obtaining the exact location of the devices. Whatever they are preparing, we won’t allow Avira users to worry about it; there’s an entire team of experts working at offering them the best protection against all types of malware.