With the evolution of computer technologies and communication platforms, the risks of virus infections and ransomware attacks are increasing steadily. Every year, the instances of malware attacks are rising. People are employing different anti-virus programs, sandbox systems and firewalls to protect their data. However, hackers are working fast to develop their malicious codes. Many ransomware strains have become entirely undetectable by the standard anti-virus programs. They remain dormant in sandbox environments and only become active once they enter the host system. In short, with the advancement of security infrastructure, the malware and ransomware are advancing too.

How does ransomware work?

Computer users have become more aware of the threats the ransomware strains pose. With WannaCry and Petya strains becoming household names, more computer users want to learn about the workings of ransomware. Ransomware is a collection of malware that hackers currently use to infiltrate a host system. They can attack desktops, laptops, and tablets to take the user’s sensitive data hostage. Studies from 2018 show that Windows 7 users are at higher risk of ransomware attacks as compared to other OS users.   

Unlike viruses like Trojan horse, these ransomware strains do not replace useful data, delete them or modify them. Hackers typically use ransomware to encrypt the host’s data completely. Once they complete the encryption and take control of the host’s system, they ask for a ransom, or they delete the useful information forever. However, more than 90% of American corporations do not pay the ransom. The reason is quite simple – there is no guarantee that the culprits will ever release the useful data. There have been several instances where the hackers have deleted sensitive information even after receiving the ransom. Healthcare corporations and fintech solutions face higher risks of ransomware attacks than other sectors. Nonetheless, that does not render the individual computer users safe from similar attacks.

What is a VPN?

A VPN (virtual private network) sets up a safe tunnel through which your computer can send and receive data successfully. It can protect the conversation between two devices by encrypting the packets of data they send back and forth. It is optimal to prevent third-party intrusion, especially when you are using an open Wi-Fi or public network. It is also useful in accessing geo-specific content that might be illegal or unavailable in your area. A VPN provider can offer an added layer of security to every computer user across the globe. Visit FastestVPNGuide to learn more about the benefits of using a trusted VPN service.

How does VPN protect your device from malware attacks?

At the same time, using a VPN can protect your computer from malware attacks to a certain degree. However, you should remember that no VPN or state of the art antivirus can keep your system or data safe unless you are careful. Some internet users download and install applications from web indiscriminately. Many of them don’t run the files through their antivirus systems before installing, or they don’t pay attention to the repeated warnings by their antivirus programs. If you are one of them, then you are inviting trouble to your digital doorstep. Along with a robust VPN service and the latest antivirus software, you need the judgment necessary to tell a legitimate application file from a potential virus.

Nonetheless, VPN users are usually safer than non-VPN computer users. Since the former has an additional layer of encryption on their messages and other information they send out, hackers find it more challenging to intercept their communications and decipher the sensitive information they want to take hostage. When you leverage a VPN service, the servers will route the traffic through the service provider’s servers to your computer. That gives each user enhanced protection against data breaches and other malicious activities. Since the hacker has to find at least one weak point between the sender and the receiver, the VPN services generally make the work much harder for them.

Why are ransomware attackers likely to target company devices?

Hackers are always on the prowl for vulnerable devices. A VPN adds security to your network and device. Hackers are less likely to spend time working on decrypting the data of an individual user leveraging a VPN service. That’s just another way of saying that any device that does not utilize a VPN service is more likely to suffer malware attacks than a VPN user. However, that is only true, for individual users on personal devices. If you are using a company’s email or account to log into a public network, you might be risking the safety of the corporate data nonetheless. A VPN is not a replacement for high-end security software or anti-virus software. Unless you are complementing your VPN service with an advanced anti-virus program, you are inviting trouble.

Research shows that SMBs are particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks in 2019. Each attack had cost the small and medium-sized businesses between $500 and $2000 last year. Although these amounts don’t seem significant for large corporations, losing $2000 multiple times a year for any small company can be debilitating to its financial health. At the same time, you must also remember that the average SMBs in the US face close to 4000 attacks in one year. Experts believe that the attacks will become more frequent this year than it was last year and the ransom demands will increase as well.

How to defeat rising malware threats?

The only way to protect your personal devices and your office systems is by using VPN services along with standard security software. Along with that, you should emphasize controlled access to your company database and mandate the use of a strong username and password combinations for all the employees. The rise in attacks corresponds to the new trend of employees bringing their own devices to the office. Thus, mandating the use of strong passwords and restricting access are the two most effective ways to reduce the threat your data faces at the moment. Cyber defense experts also recommend the implementation of zero-trust policies, whereby, each company or individual user treats a new device or file on the network as a potential threat. The only way to combat the rising ransomware attacks is by becoming vigilant and cautious about your online endeavors.