Ransomware Alert: Fake Windows Update Threat
With celebrations of the Pies’ victory behind us, no sooner is it horse racing season and attention turns to Flemington. The change from footy to the races brings longer and warmer days, so taking your laptop outdoors for a few moments makes sense. You can enjoy fresh air while checking emails and drinking a short black. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts in the sunshine.
So, when your laptop prompts you to install a Windows update, you naturally click the notification. Your primary concern is protecting your device and then reply to a few emails before heading back inside for your 11 a.m. meeting.
However, you haven’t realised that you’ve just become the latest victim of a ransomware attack.
This distressing scenario is the result of a disturbing new cybersecurity threat. Cybercriminals are continually developing new techniques to breach systems. They encrypt valuable data, leaving victims with unenviable choices. Once ransomware infiltrates your system, your computer becomes practically unusable. Your options are limited to paying a ransom or enlisting professional help to remove the malware while reinstalling a backup if available.
A recent addition to this malicious landscape is the “Big Head” ransomware, which introduces an extra layer of deceit by posing as a Microsoft Windows update.
Let’s explore the specifics of Big Head ransomware, including its deceptive strategies, and how to avoid your Melbourne business falling victim to such attacks.
Big Head Ransomware: Cyber Deception
Ransomware attacks have earned infamy for their capacity to encrypt files, rendering them inaccessible until a ransom is paid to the cybercriminals. The Big Head ransomware takes this malevolent tactic to a new level – by cunningly posing as a Windows update, lulling victims into a false sense of security.
Big Head ransomware presents victims with a remarkably authentic-looking fake Windows update alert crafted to fool users. This deceptive message can manifest as a pop-up window or a notification, further enhancing its credibility.
But the ruse doesn’t stop there. The ransomware employs a forged Microsoft digital signature, heightening the fake update’s authenticity. This clever deception makes it even more challenging for users to discern its true nature. Unsuspecting victims, believing they are installing a legitimate Windows update, unknowingly download and execute the ransomware onto their system.
The consequences are grave. Once infected, the ransomware encrypts the victim’s files, leaving them with a distressing ultimatum—a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.
By 2031, experts anticipate a ransomware attack will occur approximately every 2 seconds.
Protecting Your Data and Systems from Big Head Ransomware and Similar Threats
In an era where cyber threats are continually evolving and growing in sophistication, it is imperative for business owners and employees to proactively safeguard their data and systems from ransomware attacks like Big Head.
Ensure software and systems are regularly updated
While the appearance of Windows updates might be leveraged by Big Head ransomware, it’s essential to maintain your computer’s security by keeping it updated.
Automate Windows updates through your device or an IT provider to increase your chances of identifying potential ransomware attacks.
Confirm the authenticity of updates
It’s essential that before installing any software update, you verify its authenticity. Genuine Windows updates will be sourced directly from Microsoft’s official website. Alternatively, you may receive them through your IT service provider or Windows Update settings. Exercise caution when confronted with unsolicited update notifications if they appear in your email or from unfamiliar sources.
Always backup your data
Regularly back up your critical files to an external storage device or a secure cloud backup service. Should a ransomware attack occur, having backup copies of your data becomes pivotal as they enable file restoration without the need to pay a ransom.
Deploy strong security software
It’s critical to install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software on your computer. This software will detect and block ransomware threats, preventing their infiltration into your system.
Educate yourself and your employees
Staying well-informed about the latest ransomware threats and tactics is crucial. Take the time to educate yourself and share this knowledge with your colleagues. Discuss the risks of clicking suspicious links and downloading attachments from unknown sources.
Introduce email security measures
Ransomware frequently spreads through phishing emails. Implement robust email security measures and exercise caution when opening email attachments or clicking links. This is especially critical when they originate from unknown senders.
Activate firewall and network security
Ensure that your computer’s firewall is activated, and employ network security solutions to deter unauthorised access to your network and devices.
Switch off auto-run features
Configure your computer to turn off the auto-run functionality for external drives – this will help prevent the spread of ransomware through infected USB drives.
Exercise Caution When Dealing with Pop-Up Alerts
When encountering pop-up alerts prompting you to download or install software, exercise caution. Verify the legitimacy of such warnings before taking action to safeguard your system.
Regularly monitor IT systems
Maintain vigilance over your computer’s performance and watch for any unusual activity. For example, suspicious signs can include:
- unexpected system slowdowns;
- file changes, missing files or folders;
- and your PC’s processor is operating when it shouldn’t be.
Ensure you have an incident response plan
In preparation for the unfortunate event of a ransomware attack, ensure you have a response plan in place. Familiarise yourself with the steps to disconnect from the network, report the incident to your IT department or a cybersecurity professional, and avoid paying the ransom if possible.
Is your Melbourne business vulnerable to cyber attacks?
The constant threat of ransomware attacks like Big Head is concerning. We can help you stay informed, implement security best practices and foster a positive cybersecurity culture. Book a discovery call with one of our Melbourne IT experts to learn more.
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.