Ransomware Soars, Users Not Sure What It Is

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 @ 04:05 PM gHale

It may seem hard to believe, but there are users out there – and more than you would think – that don’t know what ransomware is and what it can do.

Those were the results of a study by Kaspersky Labs of over 5,000 users in Canada and the U.S.

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The study found while almost all security experts fret about suffering an infection via ransomware even by accident, almost half of the surveyed users have no clue what it is, or that they can lose critical data after such infections.

It appears more users worried about other malware categories such as viruses, Trojans, and spyware, compared to ransomware, which only 16 percent of the around 5,000 users said they feared. Of the same 5,000, 43 percent said they didn’t know what ransomware was, to begin with.

An additional nine percent of the 5,000 thought ransomware was someone hacking your social media account and holding it for ransom.

This lack of knowledge regarding what ransomware is also explains why a big chunk of users don’t know how to deal with it. A quarter of survey participants said the best method to fix a ransomware infection is to disconnect the computer from the Internet, which in real life doesn’t help at all.

On top of that, 15 percent of Americans and 17 percent of Canadians think turning off the device would also fix their problems. This practice can prove dangerous for some infections, if the ransomware is encrypting files at that particular time, resulting in the interruption of the encryption process that in some cases can lead to permanent data failure.

Despite facing the possibility of losing their files permanently, 53 percent of respondents said they were not willing to pay the ransom.

And to show how little people know about how ransomware works, in one question Kaspersky asked respondents of the things they’d hate to lose in a ransomware attack.

The top three answers were bank account information, social security numbers, and credit card details. Ransomware does not “steal” this information, and if it encrypts the files where these details end up stored, users can always retrieve it from offline sources.

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