As today’s most potent and dangerous cyber threat, Ransomware locks your device and holds all the sensitive files hostage unless you pay up.
Throughout 2021, ransomware made headlines, and it is continuing to do so in 2022. Ransomware attacks on large companies, organizations, or government agencies are expected, or you may have even been attacked. The prospect of having your files and data held hostage until you pay up is a severe and frightening problem. Find out how you can protect yourself against ransomware by reading about its different forms, how you can get it, where it comes from, whom it targets, and what you can do to stop it.
What is Ransomware?
A subset of malware known as Ransomware locks the data on a victim’s computer, usually encryption, and demands payment before the information is unlocked and the victim is given access again. Ransomware assaults typically have a financial goal, and unlike other sorts of attacks, the victim is generally informed of a vulnerability and provided guidance on how to recover from the attack. In addition, payment of virtual currencies like bitcoin is frequently sought to conceal the cybercriminal’s identity.
Attacks using Ransomware
What specific ways do threat actors use to carry out a ransomware assault? An Internet connection or computer access is required first. Moreover, they can use the virus required to encrypt or lock up your device and data if they have access, which they do. Your computer becomes infected with Ransomware in several different ways.
How can you recognize Ransomware?
1. Malspam: Some threat actors employ spam to acquire access by sending emails with malicious attachments to as many recipients as possible, then watching to see who opens the attachment and “takes the bait,” as it were. Unsolicited emails used to spread malware are called malicious spam or malspam. For example, the email could have malicious attachments like Word or PDF files. Additionally, it might link to harmful websites.
2. Malvertising: Malvertising is a common technique of infection. Online advertising that spreads malware with little to no user engagement is known as malvertising. Users can be taken to malicious servers when browsing the internet, even on legitimate sites, without clicking on an advertisement.
Moreover, these servers compile information about target machines and their locations before choosing the virus that will do the job the best. This malware is frequently Ransomware. Malvertising often performs its operations through an infected iframe or unseen webpage element.
Ransomware attacks people from various walks of life, as was already mentioned. The typical ransom demand ranges from $100 to $200. However, specific corporate attacks demand much more, mainly if the attacker knows that the data being blocked would cause the targeted organization to suffer a significant financial loss. Cybercriminals can thus earn enormous sums of money by employing these techniques.
Who is a ransomware target?
A single person, a small to medium-sized business (SMB), an enterprise-level organization, or even an entire city might be the target of Ransomware.
Public organizations are particularly at risk from Ransomware because they lack the cybersecurity necessary to thwart it effectively. SMBs experience the same thing. Public organizations have precious data that might cripple them if lost, in addition to patchy protection. They are more likely to pay as a result. Hence, there is a need to follow the cybersecurity risk assessment checklist. It will help public organizations secure their precious data ultimately.
What effects do businesses suffer from Ransomware?
A ransomware assault can have catastrophic effects on a company. Ransomware cost businesses over $8 billion last year, and more than half of all malware attacks were ransomware attacks, according to the survey. The following are some effects:
- Loss of data for a company;
- Infrastructure compromise-related downtime;
- Probable revenue lost;
- Expensive recovery efforts that could cost more than the ransom;
- Damage over time to both data and the infrastructure supporting it;
- Damage to a company’s previously solid reputation; and
- Loss of clients and, in the worst circumstances, the possibility of suffering bodily injury if the company provides public services like healthcare.
How can ransomware attacks be avoided?
Security professionals advise users to take the following precautions to guard against ransomware threats and other forms of cyber extortion:
- Regularly back up your computing equipment.
- List every asset.
- Software updates should include antivirus programs.
- Encourage end users not to open an email attachment from unknown senders or click on email links.
- Keep your details to yourself.
- Use only known USB sticks.
- Use only trusted sources for downloads.
- Customize the anti-spam settings.
- Observe any suspicious activities on the network.
- Activate the scanning of compressed and archived data in security software.
- After identifying a suspicious process on a computer, disable the web.
- These precautions are helpful in ransomware prevention.
Do you have to pay the ransom?
Most law enforcement organizations advise against paying ransomware attackers, claiming that doing so will encourage hackers to launch other ransomware assaults. However, when a company faces the possibility of weeks or longer of recovery, the realization of lost earnings may set in, and a company may start to weigh the cost of the ransom against the worth of the encrypted data. Trend Micro claims that 66% of businesses claim they would not pay a ransom when given the option, and about 65% do.
Even though some businesses’ desire to pay the ransom is understandable, it is nevertheless not advised for a variety of reasons:
- There is still no assurance that the hackers will keep their promise and unlock the data. According to a Kaspersky Security Bulletin from 2016, 20% of companies that elected to pay the required ransom did not receive their files back.
- Possibility of scareware. It was possible to utilize the ransom message without having access to an organization’s data.
- Wrong or only functional decryption keys are used. The decryptor an organization obtains after paying the ransom might only be available enough for the crooks to claim they keep their word.
Ransomware tendencies in the future
Increased assaults on utilities and public infrastructure, which are crucial entities with access to significant sums of money and frequently employ antiquated cybersecurity technologies, are the most important trend to anticipate Ransomware in the upcoming years. The technological gap between attackers and public targets could get even more significant as ransomware development progresses. Attacks may be more expensive than ever in these targeted public sectors, particularly the healthcare industry.
Additionally, predictions point to an increasing interest in small companies with out-of-date security software. Small businesses may no longer assume they are unattackable due to the rise in loT business equipment. While the security measures are not expanding exponentially, the attack vector is. Home devices are anticipated to become ever more potential targets for the same reason.
The usage of social engineering attacks that facilitate ransomware assaults has expanded along with the prevalence of mobile devices. Phishing, baiting, quid pro quo, pretexting, and piggybacking are examples of social engineering attack techniques that feed on influencing people’s mentality.
Attacks using Ransomware can take on a variety of forms and dimensions. The attack vector has a significant impact on the kinds of Ransomware that are employed. Always keep in mind what is at risk or what data could be erased or made public when estimating the scale and scope of the attack. Regardless of the ransomware kind, properly using security tools and storing data beforehand can dramatically lessen the severity of an attack.
Considering a cybersecurity services provider is the need of the hour. Hiring them can help public organizations to secure their precious data to the next level.