Why should you not rush paying the ransom?

Ransomware viruses are one of the most popular and dangerous cyber threats nowadays. After one casual click users can lose all their personal files and companies – several years of work. Thousands of ransomware viruses are targeting various file types and encoding them with sophisticated algorithms. After the attack users cannot open encrypted files and became frightened by changed desktop’s background with ransom demanding message. The panic becomes even bigger when victims read a ransom note and learn about the necessity to pay the ransom if they want to use their files ever again. Some ransom notes even have a timer which counts the time left to transfer the money. Indeed, cyber criminals use psychologic terror to force victims to pay the money. Swindling the money is the one and only reason why criminals create these computer infections.

It seems that cyber criminals are unstoppable. Even police and authorities cannot find them and make them pay for the illegal activities. However, computer users can take some precautions and protect their data by making backup copies and behaving carefully online. But ransomware distribution techniques became so polished and tricky that anyone can slip and become a victim of the virus. After ransomware attack, we do not recommend rushing to pay the ransom. Transferring the money may not be the most efficient way to get back your personal files. It some cases, for example, when the virus attacks large companies or governmental institutions, paying the ransom may be a solution, because risking to lose several years of work may lead to bankruptcy or enormous financial loss. However, it doesn’t matter if you are a business subject, or individual computer user, you should consider these five things before paying the ransom:

  1. File decryption tools. Malware researchers are working and analysing file-encrypting viruses in order to create free decryption tools. In NoMoreRansom website you can find necessary software to restore corrupted files. However, if you cannot find needed tool, you should look up for information online, and you may find what you are looking for.
  2. Alternative data recovery methods. If you cannot find a necessary tool to decrypt files, you should try other data recovery options. Ransomware may have failed to delete Volume Shadow Copies, and you can recover your documents using them. In this case, ShadowExplorer tool may be useful as well.
  3. Backup encrypted files. Sometimes it’s impossible to decrypt data at the moment; however, it may be possible tomorrow, next week or next month. Virus researchers developing decryption software at the moment; therefore, if you backup encrypted files, you may recover them in the near future.
  4. Consider the worth of the ransom. Be honest with yourself and answer if your files are actually worth risking and paying the money. Paying the ransom is always a risky activity because cyber criminals may not keep their word and may not provide a necessary software or decryption key. However, if you are willing to pay the ransom, don’t forget that some ransomware variants ask for a smaller amount of money if you pay within the deadline.
  5. Decryption software or key may install malware. Keep in mind that tools provided by the cyber criminals may be malicious and contain malware. Some of the secretly installed programs may collect your personal or private information and send it to the criminals. This activity may lead not only to the money loss but to the identity theft as well.

Money makes the world go round. Cyber criminals won’t stop developing more ransomware viruses if people do not stop paying ransoms. Indeed, paying the ransom may be an option to recover lost files; however, it’s quite a selfish choice. The purpose of the ransomware is to swindle the money from innocent computer users. Therefore, every ransom is an achieved goal for cyber criminals. It motivates and encourages them to develop even more dangerous and sophisticated file-encrypting viruses. To minimise the number of ransomware attacks, computer users should stop paying the money to cyber criminals.

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Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli

Malware analyst...

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