Tech Talk: Beware of ransomware

Ransomware are viruses that are sent to people, mostly through email, that infect people’s computers and request them to pay a fee to have the restriction removed or to receive an encryption key.

Writing on a computer keyboard [Illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Writing on a computer keyboard [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
ClicksMob, a mobile performance network, has recently announced that it will be merging with AppGrade, which specializes in monetizing video for the mobile market. This merger will enable Clicks- Mob to enhance its marketing capabilities in the mobile market due to addition of AppGrade’s advanced video-advertising platform.
Following the merger, Avishai Shoshan, who until now was the founder and CEO of AppGrade, will be the new CEO of the merged company. Chen Yahav Levanon, the current CEO of ClicksMob, will be appointed president of the company and has plans to leave the company within a few months.
Formed in 2014, AppGrade provides highly advanced monetization capabilities that are directly embedded in major apps. AppGrade’s substantial video facility enhances ClicksMob’s products by offering app developers who are looking to generate revenue from advertising an improved user experience. In addition, the combination of the AppGrade and ClicksMob technologies will now make it possible for advertisers to find the ultimate locations to promote their products at even better prices.
Ransomware are viruses that are sent to people, mostly through email, that infect people’s computers and request them to pay a fee to have the restriction removed or to receive an encryption key.
Ransomware can also infect your computer though other communication channels, such as RDP protocol and website banners. For example, when you click on the banner, certain files on your computer are locked, and you have no way of accessing them. These files are kept locked under ransom until the victim sends payment for their release. Amounts range from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars.
Payment can be made using the digital currency Bitcoin or other online payment- voucher services, which means the thieves cannot be traced. When the ransomware perpetrators remove the virus after payment, they destroy it completely and erase any imprint to ensure they cannot be identified or located.
There are 10 ways to prevent a ransomware attack on your personal computer: antivirus, firewall, security updates, closure of the port of remote desktop, reinforcing security, setting up password-security software, online cloud backup, eliminating admin privileges, and employee training.
There are three common ways that ransomware can bypass antivirus: • An antivirus can only be created for a specific virus once an antivirus company identifies the new menace. But there is always a lag time, and sometimes people are attacked by viruses that are not yet covered by their antivirus. New viruses are being created every second. It’s like a game of cat and mouse.
• Most people only download free or basic antivirus versions; as a result, they are not protected from many new and dangerous viruses.
• One of the most common reasons for an antivirus not to function properly is if it’s missing a few specifications or if it wasn’t installed fully. Antivirus companies have dealt with many cases in which customers were infected as a result.
Imagine yourself sitting at your desk at work, and then in the blink of an eye, a hacker somewhere in the world has frozen your computer and is holding all of your information captive: your price quotes, marketing materials, financial statements, customer contracts, employee agreements – everything you’ve ever worked on has been encrypted, and you have been blocked from accessing them.
Even if you regularly back up the content of your hard drive, the recovery process can still be long and arduous. A computer technician will need to restore your network and reinstall all of your files. This process can take several days, and these viruses can even enter your network, so any connected devices are also at risk.
So if your computer is attacked by ransomware, one option is to pay the ransom and keep your fingers crossed that the attacker will release your files once he receives the payment. But the payment process is not always so straightforward and often requires a rudimentary understanding of the technicalities of online payment, such as with Bitcoin. Of course, you must also know that if you give in to an attacker’s demands and pay the ransom, this strengthens these perpetrators’ activities and encourages them to attack others.
My recommendation is, of course, to alert the IT expert who deals with all your network issues. (If you don’t have one, then it’s high time you find one, regardless of the size of your business.) The IT expert should install updates, carry out security scans and restore as much data as possible from your backup, which will upgrade your network security level.
If you run a young startup, have developed an interesting app or have a question, please feel free to contact
Translated by Hannah Hochner.