Knowing malware: a few scary ransomware examples to consider

by | Aug 3, 2016 | Security

Consider these ransomware examples.

Ransomware has become the leading form of malware on the Internet, and it’s one of the most harmful. If it hits your computer, it will encrypt many of your files or even the whole drive. Unless you have a recent backup, you have the choice of paying the attacker or giving up the files. Here are a few ransomware examples out of the many that have emerged in the past few years.


Ransomware has existed in various forms for a long time, but it became big news with the appearance of Cryptolocker in 2013. Today it exists in many variants, with names like CryptoDefense and CryptoWall. Whatever the name, this ransomware example starts with a phishing email message. If you run the attachment, it downloads and runs the malware from a botnet and goes to work encrypting your files.


Cryptolocker has pulled in a lot of money, and it’s inspired imitators. Locky showed up in early 2016, and it works a lot like Cryptolocker. The email asks you to enable macros in the attached document. This is something you should never do with email attachments that are at all questionable. Enabling macros lets the attachment download the malware.


Both of these use widely accepted, high-quality encryption schemes, so it’s effectively impossible to break the encryption. Bart is a form of ransomware that works a little differently. It puts your files into a password-protected ZIP archive. Unfortunately, that’s still strong enough security that your chances of recovering the files by breaking the encryption are effectively zero. Bart is also different in that it doesn’t require connecting to a server to operate, so it can take your files hostage even if you’re offline.

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Another example of ransomware is Petya, which encrypts your master file table rather than your files. This means that when it’s done its work, you can’t do anything with your computer except boot to the ransomware screen; you have to go to another computer to buy the decryption key.

Protecting yourself

These ransomware examples give just a sampling of what’s lurking on the Net. The best way to protect yourself from it is to make frequent offsite backups. Local backups aren’t enough protection, since most forms of ransomware will attack attached drives. If you can restore all files that are more than an hour or so old, your losses are minimal. Be sure to remove the malware first, though, or you might have to go through the cycle all over again.

Please contact us to learn how Invenio IT can keep you safe from data loss.

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Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.