Imagine you’re working away on your PC and see a Windows update prompt. Instead of ignoring it, you take action; after all, you want to keep your device safe. But when you install what you think is a legitimate update, you’re infected with ransomware.
This is the new nightmare caused by an emerging cybersecurity threat.
Cybercriminals are constantly devising new ways to infiltrate systems encrypting valuable data, and leaving victims with difficult choices. Once ransomware infects your system, your PC is pretty useless. You either have to pay a ransom or get someone to remove the malware as well as restore a backup (if you have one!).
One such variant that has emerged recently is the "Big Head" ransomware. It adds a new layer of deception by disguising itself as a Windows update. In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of Big Head ransomware, including its deceptive tactics and how you can protect yourself from falling victim to such attacks.
The Big Head Ransomware Deception
Ransomware attacks have long been infamous for their ability to encrypt files, rendering them inaccessible to the victim until a ransom is paid to the attacker. In the case of Big Head ransomware, the attackers have taken their tactics to the next level, masquerading the attack as a Windows update.
Big Head ransomware presents victims with a convincing and fake Windows update alert specifically designed to trick users. The message may appear in a pop-up window or as a notification and victims think that their computers are undergoing a legitimate Windows update.
The deception goes even further though, with the ransomware using a forged Microsoft digital signature. This makes the fake update appear more authentic and adds an extra layer of credibility to the malicious message. Unfortunately, this makes it even more challenging for tech-savvy users to discern its true nature.
The attack fools the victim into thinking it’s a legitimate Windows update so they unknowingly download and execute the ransomware onto their system. From there, the ransomware proceeds to encrypt the victim's files. Before they know it, victims see a message demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.
By 2031, it’s expected a ransomware attack will occur every 2 seconds.
Protect Yourself from Big Head Ransomware & Similar Threats
Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and it’s not just the good guys exploring the uses of ChatGPT. It's crucial to take proactive steps to protect your data and systems. Here are some strategies to safeguard yourself from ransomware attacks like Big Head.
Keep Software and Systems Updated
This one is tricky because updating your computer is a best practice for security. Yet, Big Head ransomware leverages the appearance of Windows updates.
One way to be sure you’re installing a real update is to automate. Automate your Windows updates through your device or an IT provider (like us). This increases the chances of spotting a fake that pops up unexpectedly.
Another way is to use the settings app in the Start menu and not just trust a notification that appears on your screen.
Verify the Authenticity of Update
Before installing any software update, verify its authenticity. Genuine Windows updates will come directly from Microsoft's official website or through your IT service provider or Windows Update settings. Be cautious of unsolicited update notifications, especially those received via email or from unfamiliar sources.
Backup Your Data
Regularly back up your important files. Use an external storage device or a secure cloud backup service. In the event of a ransomware attack, having backup copies is vital as they can allow you to restore your files without paying a ransom.
Use Robust Security Software
Install reputable antimalware software on your computer. These programs can help detect and block ransomware threats which helps prevent them infiltrating your system.
Educate Yourself and Others
Stay informed about the latest ransomware threats and tactics. Educate yourself and your colleagues or family members and discuss the dangers of clicking on suspicious links as well as downloading attachments from unknown sources.
Use Email Security Measures
Ransomware often spreads through phishing emails. Put robust email security measures in place, be cautious about opening email attachments or clicking on links and watch out for emails from unknown senders, or unexpected emails from known senders.
Enable Firewall and Network Security
Activate your computer's firewall. Use network security solutions to prevent unauthorized access to your network and devices.
Disable Auto-Run Features
Configure your computer to disable auto-run functionality for external drives. This can help prevent ransomware from spreading through infected USB drives.
Be Wary of Pop-Up Alerts
Exercise caution when encountering pop-up alerts, especially those that ask you to download or install software. Verify the legitimacy of such alerts before taking any action.
Keep an Eye on Your System
Keep an eye on your computer's performance and any unusual activity. If you notice anything suspicious, investigate immediately. Suspicious PC activity can be:
- Unexpected system slowdowns
- File changes
- Missing files or folders
- Your PC’s processor “whirring” when you’re not doing anything
Have a Response Plan
In the unfortunate event of a ransomware attack, have a response plan in place. Know how to disconnect from the network and report the incident to your IT department or a cybersecurity professional. Avoid paying the ransom if possible.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.