End User Awareness: Ransomware

September 24, 2016 | Views: 11136

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Users are receiving increasing numbers of phishing emails containing ransomware, both at home and at work. Some users can accidentally activate the virus and as a consequence, their colleagues at work might be seriously impacted. This short communication will teach your users what ransomware is and how to defend yourself. Please read it carefully.


Ransomware is a type of computer virus, generally delivered as an email attachment or downloaded from malicious and/or social websites. It could be masked as a document (e.g. a late invoice) or as a useful program. Once it is executed, ransomware encrypts all user documents, both on the computer and on network drives. A ransom is then asked in exchange for decrypting the files, otherwise if the user does not have a recent backup the files are lost forever.


To defend against ransomware, IT support should setup a wide array of technical measures and procedures, including regular backups (and you may also want to backup your files at home). Unfortunately these measures are not enough when done alone. The most effective defense against ransomware is safe user behaviour and awareness.

Don’t be the weakest link! Follow these simple rules to protect yourself and your colleagues from ransomware:

  • Be suspicious with any email received from outside the commission
  • DO NOT click links or download attachments in suspicious emails
  • DO NOT download attachments from your personal mailbox (e.g. Gmail) on computers at work
  • Carefully examine emails before taking any action. Were you waiting for that email? Were you already discussing that topic with your contact? Ask the person it came from if they actually sent it.
  • Carefully examine URLs and file extensions before opening them

Are you interested in more information? Read the free Oxford University e-book, “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What everyone needs to know.

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  1. We hear more and more of these types of incidents occurring to critical private sector infrastructure. It’s annoying and intrusive enough when the malware effects a single user target, but when it infects a large scale platform, with several users the damage is exponential in scale.

  2. My Laptop also effected with cerber ransomware virus, i tried Malwarebyte Antimalware but didn’t success, can anyone guide me ?

    • If you don’t have a backup, anything encrypted is lost. The best bet is a wipe and reinstall of your OS for most if not all viruses/worms. You never know if you got it all and they can do a lot of things to replicate and reactivate after you think it’s gone.

  3. Well explained. Thnx for sharing

  4. I thought this article was clear and to the point. It helped me understand what ransomware was without giving me to many terms all at once that I might not understand and have to look up. It also helped by giving advice on how to not only avoid getting attacked by ransomware but what plans to have in place in case you do. The article even sparked discussion in the comments about someone who was a victim of ransomware and what he should do. After reading this article I realized that even I’m not safe from an attack like this. I even took note and scheduled bi-daily backups of my own machine at home just in case something was to happen. The article really makes the user aware of the dangers of ransomware and how to avoid it happening to you.

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