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4 Types of Ransomware That Can Hijack Your Devices

Malicious software, or “malware,” infects countless computers and websites each day. Malware is spread through many different avenues, most notably emails and Flash ads, and can result in your devices being hijacked and the theft of personal information. Although there are numerous varieties of malware, ransomware is among the nastiest. True to its name, ransomware essentially kidnaps computers and other internet-enabled devices and holds them hostage until monetary demands are met. A single ransomware infection can result in sensitive financial data being compromised and throw a victim’s personal finances into total disarray. In the interest of protecting your devices and personal info from harm, be on the lookout for the following types of ransomware.

  1. CryptoLocker

Since appearing on the scene in 2013, CryptoLocker has become one of the most prevalent varieties of malware. This was the first type of malicious software to encrypt victims’ data with randomly generated symmetric keys. Once this task has been accomplished, the symmetric keys are encrypted with public asymmetric keys, and upon full encryption, victims are greeted with a message demanding monetary compensation in return for access to the private asymmetric key, without which the symmetric keys for the encrypted files cannot be decrypted. The message also warns the victim that if the ransom is not paid by a specific deadline, the symmetric key will be destroyed, thereby making it impossible to recover the hijacked data. Website owners interested in keeping CryptoLocker off their sites would be wise in consider top-shelf security solutions. A handy SiteLock review can teach you all about cloud-based options.  

  1. Locky

Making its debut in 2016, Locky is a particularly insidious piece of ransomware. More often than not, Locky finds its way onto victims’ computers by way of Microsoft Office email attachments. When the victim clicks on one of these files, they’ll be prompted to enable Office macros in order for the document to display properly. However, the true purpose of this prompt is to install the aforementioned malware. After Locky encrypts the victim’s files, a ransom note will automatically become their computer’s desktop background. These notes typically instruct victims to download the Tor browser and visit a specific site in order to pay the ransom. A more recent variant of Locky infects devices through JavaScript attachments that are automatically run by Windows Script Host upon being clicked. Office macros needn’t be enabled for this to work.

  1. Jigsaw

Jigsaw doesn’t give victims much time to reflect on their situation before proceeding to cause substantial damage. Once this evil little piece of a malware finds its way onto a victim’s device, it will inform them that unless a ransom is paid, every file on the device will be deleted. It then proceeds to start deleting files at a steady pace until the aforementioned financial demands are met. As more time passes, more files are deleted per hour. If the 72-hour mark is reached without a ransom being paid, every remaining file on the device will be deleted en masse.

  1. LeChiffre

Deriving its name from the French word for “encryption,” LeChiffre commonly infects unsecured desktop computers. Unlike self-operational varieties of malware, LeChiffre must be run manually by cybercriminals. When seeking out targets, crooks scan networks in search of desktops whose security isn’t up to snuff. Upon selecting a target, perpetrators will log into the computer remotely and proceed to install LeChiffre. As is the case with most other forms of ransomware, the endgame involves demanding a ransom in return for the device’s safety. Of course, complying with these demands doesn’t necessarily mean that all traces of LeChiffre will be removed. Furthermore, regardless of whether or not a ransom is paid, the perpetrators are still likely to make off with sensitive personal data.   

Malware is a favorite tool of cybercriminals and is commonly used in conjunction with a variety of online scams. While certain types of malware are relatively benign, ransomware is not among them. In addition to being one of the hardest types of malware to get rid of, it’s capable of causing substantial damage in a very short period of time. The consequences of a ransomware infection range from unusable devices to complete financial ruin. Steering clear of ransomware in all its forms can go a long way in ensuring your online safety.