Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
A nasty form of ransomware dubbed NotPetya is currently spreading around the world. The first reports emerged from Russia and the Ukraine, but NotPetya has now reached the U.S, the UK, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Germany, and France. In other words, it’s pretty much everywhere.
Ransomware is a growing threat. Just a couple of months ago a strain called WannaCry crippled the British National Health Service for several days. And now NotPetya is infecting computers with relative impunity. So here’s everything you need to know about the NotPetya ransomware.
All of Your Questions, Answered
What Is Ransomware?
For the uninitiated amongst you, ransomware is a type of malware that infects your computer. Once it takes hold, it encrypts all of the files on your hard drive until you pay a ransom to release them. If you decide not to pay the ransom then you can lose permanent access to your files.
What Is Petya?
Petya is a ransomware variant first discovered in 2016. It represented an evolutionary step in terms of ransomware, being more sophisticated than everything that had come before. However, its reach was rather limited, especially when someone figured out how to stop Petya in its tracks.
What Is NotPetya?
The strain of ransomware currently spreading around the world isn’t Petya. While it resembles Petya, it’s a new strain of ransomware that hasn’t been seen before. Which is why Kaspersky has dubbed it NotPetya. Other names include Petrwrap, Petna, Pneytna, ExPetr, and GoldenEye.
Some of our gov agencies, private firms were hit by a virus. No need to panic, we’re putting utmost efforts to tackle the issue ? pic.twitter.com/RsDnwZD5Oj
— Ukraine / ??????? (@Ukraine) June 27, 2017
While NotPetya shares some DNA with Petya, this is something else entirely. Having said that, it works in much the same way as any other form of ransomware, encrypting all of your files and asking for a ransom to release them. The ransom in this case being $300 worth of Bitcoin.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Ransomware is a nasty form of malware capable of targeting anyone and everyone regardless of their personal circumstances. All you can do to guard against it is follow some basic advice:
- Back up all of your files regularly.
- Keep your computer up to date at all times.
- Use some form of up-to-date antivirus software.
- Always exercise caution when opening emails and attachments.
- Be Aware of the various threats that exist online.
If, despite taking these precautions, you still get hit with ransomware, do not under any circumstances pay the ransom. Instead, disconnect your computer from the internet, format your hard drive, reinstall Windows, and reinstall your files from that aforementioned backup.
The Growing Threat From Ransomware
Ransomware isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that ransomware-as-a-service is going to make these kinds of attacks all too common. With that in mind, all you can do is take the basic, common sense steps to help protect yourself. And then cross your fingers.
Do you understand how ransomware works? Have you ever been hit by ransomware? Did you pay to decrypt your files? Or did you just wipe your computer hard drive and install backups? Are you worried about the rise of ransomware? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Jeremy Segrott via Flickr