Garmin Connect users across the globe lost access to all their online fitness data as a result of a Ransomware attack just this month (August 2020). This form of cybercrime is a relatively new development. Read more about this attack on TechRepublic.

The following information about ransomware is an extract from the document “Clarification of existing content and Additional concepts as per the 2017 Examination Guidelines Grade 12“:

Ransomware is a type of malware designed to encrypt or block access to your computer system and files until you pay a sum of money (‘ransom’).

  • Ransomware is typically packaged with installation files and camouflaged as official software updates.
  • After infecting your computer, the malware finds files with JPG, XLS, PNG, DOC and PPT file extensions. These files are usually important images and documents, so the chance is that the hacker will encrypt a file that you need.
  • After encryption, the malware tells you that your data is being held for ransom and gives you a site to access.

How to protect your computer

  • Do not download from a site that tells you software on your computer is outdated. Websites are not able to detect outdated software unless you give the website permission to read your hard drive. If you think your software needs an update, go to the official product developer’s site and download it directly from there.
  • Always keep the latest antivirus definitions installed on your computer to defend against all types of malware. The main issue with ransomware is that once you get infected, there is nothing you can do to reverse the damage.
  • Always keep regular backups in a safe place.

Disadvantages:

  • Ransomware can hinder the economic viability of small businesses.
  • More money is spent or needed on security software.
  • Time-consuming and costly when attempting to decrypt data.

Relevance and impact on personal lives/ Application(s) in an ICT context

  • Digital currency such as Bitcoin is typically used to pay the hacker. Reports show that many people pay the ransom, because the files are just too important to give up, and there is currently no guaranteed method to decrypt files.
  • Ransomware is cybercrime and is a gateway for cyber terrorism between counties.

How to fight ransomware:

  • Back up your data and files
  • Educate yourself and employees to recognise potential threats
  • Limit access to those that need it
  • Keep signature-based protections up-to-date
  • Implement multi-layered security, including advanced threat prevention technologies

With thanks to:

  • CAT Advisors: Estelle Llewellyn (KZN), Fotiene Avrakotos (Gauteng), Vani Pather (KZN), Shani Nunkumar (KZN), Yvette Lourens (Northern Cape)
  • CAT Teachers: Anton van Kampen (Nico Malan High, Eastern Cape), Sharon Oelofsen (Ladysmith High, KZN),
  • Reginald Govender (Kingsway High, KZN), Northern Cape CAT teachers.

This is part of a series of articles on Types of computer crimes.

By MisterFoxOnline

CAT Educator

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