Bitcoin ransomware has been a topic of substantial discussion in the media throughout 2015, and the year 2016 does not seem to be changing that anytime soon. There have been numerous reports of this type of attack against companies and individual users, even though there are a few easy steps to avoid ransomware from infecting one’s device. Bitcoin is not to blame for these attacks by any means, only the people who create this software. Although the ones who pay the ransom are partially to blame as well.
Brief Introduction To Bitcoin Ransomware
For those readers unfamiliar with the concept of Bitcoin ransomware, we should take the time to briefly explain what this phenomenon is all about. Whenever a computer is affected by ransomware, nearly all necessary files will be locked – or encrypted – with a particular password. The end user has no idea what this password could be, nor can they regain access to their files.
The – allegedly – only way to restore file access is by paying a sum of money to the person responsible for infecting one’s device. In most cases, this amount can only be paid in Bitcoin, which a lot of people see as an anonymous digital currency, even though it is not. Hackers feel safe accepting Bitcoin payments, as they think people will not be able to trace the funds. Unfortunately for them, the blockchain keeps track of all resources in real-time, and is publicly accessible, making the digital currency anything but anonymous.
As one would come to expect, consumers and even IT professionals tend to panic when they are infected with Bitcoin ransomware, as they see no other option than paying the money. However, there are certain precautions people can take to either ignore the infection altogether or obtaining the decryption key – or password – to regain access to their files without paying anything.
Preventing Bitcoin Ransomware Attacks
It is no secret how ransomware attacks will only occur due to a mistake by the end user. Similarly to how most of the malicious software in the world reaches critical mass, computer users need to stop clicking unknown links, especially when they are sent via social media or email. Even if that message comes from a family member or friend, never click any link included in the message to avoid ransomware, malware, or any other type of software infection.
Secondly, there is no need to install new software when prompted to do so. If a user is opening a link to a video on a website, and a popup appears to install additional software, click it away or leave the site immediately. Nearly all of these popups and websites are created for malicious purposes, such as spreading ransomware.
Granted, there is only so much that can be done regarding preventive measures. Now and then, someone will click a link they shouldn’t have, or open an email attachment containing Bitcoin ransomware. But when disaster strikes, there is still no need to start panicking all of a sudden. There are other precautions to take in the event of getting infected with this ransomware, by restoring access to files without paying the Bitcoin amount.
Backups Are Critical For Individuals And Companies
Needless to say, computer security is of the utmost importance to any user, regardless of whether it is a home computer or company machine. Regular backups are needed in every type of situation, and Bitcoin ransomware is a scenario in which a backup will be extremely useful.
Rather than paying the ransomware fee itself – which should always be a last resort – one can just regain access to their files by reverting to a backup before the Bitcoin ransomware infection took place. While this may lead to some missing information, at least the computer becomes usable once again. Reverting to an earlier backup saves a lot of time and money, instead of paying the Bitcoin sum.
Which brings us to the final piece of information users need to keep in mind at all times. Even if one were to pay the Bitcoin ransomware sum, there is no guarantee the hacker will give the password or decryption key to restoring access to one’s files. There are plenty of preventive measures to take, and users have no excuse to justify paying in Bitcoin when their PC is infected with ransomware.
Partial Source: PC World