Cytex Cyber Security | What You Need To Know About Ransomware in South Africa
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What You Need To Know About Ransomware in South Africa


You’ve probably heard of ransomware, but what does it do and why should you worry? Here are some facts on ransomware that you need to know. Read them for your own protection.

If you haven’t heard of ransomware by now count yourself lucky. Although not an entirely new threat (in fact, it’s been around since the 1980s), ransomware as a cyber security threat is growing exponentially and attacks have rapidly become more commonplace.

Essentially, what ransomware does is encrypt all your files (yes, all of them – from your personal photos, to your business software and servers) and demand a payment from you in return for the promise of issuing you the decryption keys. Ransomware usually has a timer that gives you a couple of days to stew over all of the data you’re potentially going to lose when the timer runs out and you haven’t paid the ransom.

What is ransomware?

There are different types of ransomware but all of them will prevent you from using your computer. Ransomware can target any users, whether it’s a home computer, end-points in an enterprise network, or servers used by a government organisation, educational institution or healthcare provider. No one is safe.

Not even Mac users. That’s right. While most of the attacks in the earlier 2000s were aimed at PCs using Windows, in time, ransomware for other operating systems emerged. Now everyone is vulnerable, whether using iOS, Mac OS X, or Android devices. The reason for this? It’s a lucrative business. Even if only 1% of its victims choose to pay, that’s still a healthy profit.

Ransomware can and will:

  • Prevent you from accessing your operating system.
  • Encrypt files so you can’t use them.
  • Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser, email, accounting software).

How does ransomware spread?

There are many ways ransomware can be distributed, but generally it is delivered to your computer through spam. It can also act like a computer worm, using pop-ups with clever messaging to incite you to launch or download the malicious payload.

Why should I care about ransomware in South Africa?

There is no guarantee that paying the ransom will give access to your computer or files again. Ransomware is serious. As individual users at home, or business owners, we are dependent on the data that we have saved on our desktops, smart devices and work servers. We know our data is important, yet not so important that regular, thorough backups are performed and our computer security measures are maintained consistently. Why is this? Because we think ransomware won’t happen to us. It’s easy to think that we won’t be a target for hackers, but this thinking simply clouds the plain, simple truth: ransomware is a threat to everyone.


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