Ransomware is on the Rise – What to Know

There are many different types of malicious threats out there: viruses, scareware, backdoors, worms, and ransomware. To learn more about all of them, check out our “Virus Lab” here. Today, we want to focus on ransomware, because it’s on the rise – and it’s scary! Keep reading to learn more.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is an umbrella term for a group of viruses that hold valuable information hostage– either by encrypting your data so that it is unreadable or by totally locking you out of your computer.

Ransomware gets its name due to its general nature – it threatens harm by keeping your personal data captive, and demands a financial ransom in return. Unfortunately, once a computer has been infected with ransomware, there is little anyone– even the F.B.I. — can do to restore the files.

Based on a report from McAfee’s threat research team, a major trend is the growth of ransomware attacks which went up by 118%!

Biggest Ransomware Families

The three biggest ransomware families are Dharma, GandCrab, and Ryuk. And there continues to be the discovery of new ransomware families all the time that use innovative techniques to target computer users.

Dharma, which makes changes by infecting computer files and adding extensions to them, has been in operation since 2016 and continues to infect computers, causing damages to files making them unable to be decrypted.

The GandCrab ransomware infects computers by dropping a “GandCrab.exe” file. It also encrypts your files – locking them up and making them inaccessible to the computer owner.

The Ryuk ransomware is known for targeting newspaper printing services in the United States. The ransomware is likely the work of a cybercrime organization instead of a targeted attack created by a specific nation-state.

An image of a computer locked by ransomware and a user paying a cyber criminal to get access to their computer and files again.
Ransomware viruses lock up your computer and make them inaccessible to you.

New Ransomware Anatova

A disturbing new ransomware family that has emerged is the Anatova family. This ransomware usually uses the icon of a game or application, making it appealing to users who are more likely to click on it thinking it’s a fun computer game.

The Anatova ransomware also adapts very quickly, spreads easily amongst computers, and is very difficult to remove via anti-ransomware tools and methods.

In fact, the files and data locked by Anatova cannot be restored without paying the group behind Anatova, even if you try to use a generic decryption tool to try to unlock it. This makes it more important for computer users to create regular backup copies of their computer files.

What should you do?

  1. Keep up to date with the latest virus trends – if you’re reading this article you’re already doing a great job staying up-to-date about the latest threats. Keep it up! Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date.
  2. Have an antivirus installed on your computer and keep it updated – this will stop a lot of threats and keep you protected. If you don’t already have an antivirus, we recommend McAfee Total Protection. You can learn more about McAfee here.
  3. Run regular FixMeStick scans – often viruses get past your antivirus and then hide on your system. Ransomware can often do this. Make sure you remove it before it encrypts your files. To do this run regular FixMeStick scans. We recommend at least once a month!

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below!

7 comments

  1. Anonymous -

    My old FixMeStick will not do an automated scan. I don’t understand how to do a manual scan, and I would prefer to buy a newer version. How can I do that, and what would it cost?
    Thank you,
    Judy H.

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Hi Judy! Thanks for contacting us. We’re so sorry to hear you are having trouble starting a scan. The FixMeStick support team can help resolve this issue! You can contact them HERE or by emailing support@fixmestick.com.

  2. Anonymous -

    I love the fix me stick, it has definitely worked for me. I had a laptop that had 40,000 viruses, I followed the directions and it restored my laptop. I use it for all my computers. Thanks fix me stick!

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      Wow! We’re happy to help keep your computer virus-free and secure. Thanks for being a FixMeFan!

  3. Jean -

    I so much appreciate your reminding me to run my fix me stick, since I do forget sometimes.

    • FixMeStick/StartMeStick -

      No problem Jean 🙂 If you ever run into any issues or have any questions, we’re here to help!

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