Be On the Lookout for Ransomware Pretending to Be a Windows Update

In a lot of these blog articles on security I always say you need to keep your software up to date. But what happens when that so called update is ransomware? This is the nightmare caused by an emerging cybersecurity threat called Big Head.

Cybercriminals are constantly devising new ways to infiltrate systems. They encrypt valuable data, leaving victims with difficult choices. Once ransomware infects your system, your PC is pretty useless and the data gone. You either have to pay a ransom or get someone to remove the malware and restore your backup (if you have one!). One such variant that has emerged recently is the “Big Head” ransomware which disguises itself as a Windows update.

In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of the 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 as they encrypt files which renders then inaccessible and thus useless to the users until a ransom is paid to the attacker.

Attackers have taken their tactics to the next level with the Big Head ransomware as the attack masquerades as a Windows update. The Big Head ransomware presents victims with a convincing, but fake, Windows update alert that is specifically designed to to trick users. Users think that their computer is undergoing a legitimate Windows update as the message may appear in a pop-up window or as a notification. The deception goes even further as the ransomware uses a forged Microsoft digital signature which makes the fake update appear more authentic.

Users then unknowingly download and execute the ransomware onto their system. Once executed, the ransomware proceeds to encrypt the victim’s files and data. Once it is finished, the poor victims see a message demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. It is expected that by 2031, a ransomware attack will occur every 2 seconds!

How to Protect Yourself from Big Head Ransomware & Other Ransomware

With emerging AI systems such as ChatGPT and Google’s it is not just the good guys using these tools. Unfortunately, the bad guys also use these tools to make their malware even sophisticated and thus worse for us end users. Thus, it is crucial to take proactive steps to protect your data and systems as the bad guys are only going to get worse.

Here are some strategies to help you safeguard your systems from ransomware attacks like Big Head.

Keep Software and Systems Updated

Updating your computer is best practice for security, but Big Head ransomware can make this difficult.

One way to be sure you are installing a real update is use an IT provider (like us) as the IT provider have more of a chance at spotting a fake pop up.

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 very cautious of unsolicited update notifications, especially those received via email or from unfamiliar sources.

Backup Your Data

Before doing an update, back up your important files using an external storage device or an online provider. If you have a backup in place, in the event of a ransomware attack, you can then revert to your backups to recover your data.

Train your Staff and Users

Everyone needs to stay informed about the latest ransomware threats and tactics. Educate yourself and your employees and look at implementing formal training policies around cybersecurity.

Use Robust Security Software

Install reputable security (antivirus and anti-malware software) on your computer. These programs can help detect and block ransomware threats and prevent them infiltrating your system.

Use Email Security Measures

Ransomware often spreads through phishing emails. Implement robust email filtering and security measures. Also be cautious about:

    • opening email attachments.
    • clicking on links.
    • emails from unknown senders.
    • out of the ordinary emails from people that you actually know.

Be Wary of Pop-Up Alerts

Be cautious 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.

Enable Firewall and Network Security

Activate your computer’s software firewall and look at implementing hardware firewalls and other network security solutions to prevent unauthorised access to your network and help stop local devices connecting to known bad sites.

Disable Auto-Run Features

To prevent the spread of malware from infected USB and external drives, configure your computer to disable auto-run functionality for external drives.

Keep an Eye on Your System

Keep an eye on your computer’s performance for any unusual activity. If you notice anything suspicious, like the following, investigate immediately:

    • Unexpected system slowdowns
    • File changes
    • Missing files or folders
    • High resource (CPU, memory or drive) usage.

Have a Response Plan

In the unfortunate event of a ransomware attack, every business needs to have a response plan in place. The plan doesn’t ned to be overly complex and nees to include details such as:

    • who you need to contact along with their numbers (managers, internal / external IT providers, your cyber insurance company, police, government agencies, compliance agencies etc).
    • If privacy data has been exposed, do you need to contact a local government agency?
    • how to disconnect from the network.
    • Determine beforehand, whether you would be willing to pay the ransom. Note: in some jurisdictions this may be illegal as you are aiding known criminal or terrorist organisations.
    • Plus other information (contact us for details).

Do You Need a Cybersecurity Audit?

Do not leave unknown threats lurking in your system. A cybersecurity audit can shed light on your system vulnerabilities and allow you to fix them before it is too late. It is an important proactive measure to ensure network security so contact us today to schedule a discussion.