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Posted at: Dec 6, 2016, 2:00 AM; last updated: Dec 6, 2016, 2:00 AM (IST)

City residents fall prey to ransomware attacks

Gurvinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5

Forget about viruses or worms that slow your computer, or misuse your information, ransomware which encrypts all files is increasingly being used nowadays to target computers and laptop.

The hackers encrypt the files and then seek ransom to decrypt them. City residents are reportedly increasingly falling prey to such ransomware attacks. “Within a few second, my laptop screen went blank, and the wall paper was changed with a message ‘All files on your computer have been encrypted’. I didn’t realise the gravity of the problem at first, but none of the files opened and their names were also changed with extension of some cerber.3. Then I realised that the matter was serious,” said Jasmeet, a money changer.

He said: “The amount asked to decrypt the files was 300 dollars. I cannot afford it. I tried to search some online tools to decrypt the files and remove the malware. The virus has been removed, but the encrypted files have not been recovered.”

“Ransomware attacks are increasing in the city. Many people have complained that their important files have been encrypted. Ransomware attacks the files in the system, and encrypts them in all drives. The extension of the files also changes,” said Digvijay Malhotra, a city-based ethical hacker.

He said: “Even if somebody agrees to pay the hackers, there is no guarantee that the files will be decrypted. The hackers may try to encrypt the files time and again. Once the files are encrypted, it is usually difficult to decrypt them. Ethical hackers try to decrypt, but new versions of ransomware keep coming which makes it difficult to decrypt the files. I have been getting cases regarding this from some industrial houses also.”

The best way to deal with the problem is prevention and precaution. “One must not click any spam email, messages or links as these can be laced with malware, including ransomware. The computers must have updated anti-virus software,” he said.

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