What is Ransomware?
Ransomware, also known as cyber-extortion, is a form of malicious software that takes control over a computer and encrypts the data. The malware demands ransom payment for restoring access to the system.
How Does Ransomware Spread?
Ransomware is an acronym for a type of malware that uses strong cryptographic algorithms to prevent access of the user to his/her desktop or laptop. This program then locks up the computer and demands a ransom payment from its victims in exchange for decrypting their information. Once the data has been successfully decrypted, it is not possible to regain access, even if the file has been removed from its original location.
The ransomware spreads through phishing emails that have malicious coding on them that infects your computer and encrypts your files without you knowing. Phishing emails are also used to introduce ransomware onto computers at work and home by providing links or attachments which will bring ransomware onto your computer when opened, removing all traces of it once installed.
How Does Zeus Ransomware Work?
Zeus is a Trojan horse that is capable of being downloaded to your computer through emails, by clicking on malicious links, or by installing infected software. Zeus then requests administrative privileges and access to your files on the affected computer. Zeus typically encrypts all personal files as it searches for them and denies access even if the ransomware is removed from your system.
Zeus has been seen using AES-256 encryption for its zeroes process, which makes reverting any of the zeroes processes extremely difficult. Zeus has also been known to encrypt the entire drive of the affected computer and backup files are not enough to decrypt zeros unless a master key is found; however, this master key will not be found unless Zeus itself has been moved from your system.
Zeus encrypts all of your files with a 2048-bit RSA public key. This can be decrypted with a private key that is generated by Zeus for you in case you pay the ransom demand. However, there are no guarantees that once someone pays the ransom demand that they will receive their encrypted files back since once Zeus has been installed on your system it will log all of your login information and record how many times users currently uses their applications, such as email accounts and web browsers.
How to Remove Zeus Ransomware
Removing Zeus is incredibly difficult, and there is no guarantee your files will be decrypted after paying the ransom. The only way to remove Zeus is by using a trusted system that you can boot into which has an anti-malware software installed.
Removing Zeus ransomware can often lead to data loss since none of the aforementioned methods are guaranteed nor are they reliable in decrypting all of your files. Decrypting files can only be done with a backup, and even then, backups may not contain all of your encrypted data.
How to Protect My Computer From Ransomware
Zeus has been found to be prevalent in attachments that are sent through emails. It is highly recommended that you refrain from opening any attachment in an email unless you absolutely know what it is and who it is coming from. If you do have to open an attachment, make sure it is scanned with an anti-virus program first. Also, when clicking on links in emails, make sure they are verified first before opening them.