Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years, with high-profile incidents affecting businesses, organizations, and individuals around the world, last year there were 236.1 million ransomware attacks worldwide in the first half of 2022.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts the victim’s data and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. These attacks can be incredibly disruptive and costly, and they are often used as a means of extortion by cybercriminals.
Ransomware attacks can take many forms and can be delivered through a variety of channels, including email, social media, and websites.
According to Cyber Security Expert Pratama Persadha, in general, cyber attacks in 2023 will revolve around three things, named APT (Advanced Persistent Threat), ransomware, and supply chain attacks. APTs often take the form of state actor attacks such as the APT-29 attack from Russia which the US and its allies accuse.
In this blog post, we will provide an overview of what ransomware is, how it works, and the impact it can have on individuals and organizations. We will also offer some practical advice on how to protect yourself from ransomware attacks and what to do if you are the victim of an attack.
What is Ransomware?
The earliest variants of ransomware were developed in the late 1980s, and payment was to be sent via snail mail. Today, ransomware authors order that payment be sent via cryptocurrency or credit card, and attackers target individuals, businesses, and organizations of all kinds. Some ransomware authors sell the service to other cybercriminals, which is known as Ransomware-as-a-Service or RaaS.
There are several different types of ransomware, including:
- Encrypting Ransomware: This is the most common type of ransomware, which encrypts the victim’s files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key.
- Screen Locker Ransomware: This type of ransomware locks the victim out of their computer or mobile device, making it impossible to access any of their data.
- Scareware: This is a type of ransomware that tricks victims into thinking that their computer is infected with a virus, and then demands payment to remove the “threat”.
Ransomware attacks can be delivered through a variety of channels, including email, social media, and malicious websites. Once the victim’s device is infected, the ransomware will begin encrypting files, making them inaccessible. The victim will then receive a message from the attackers, typically in the form of a pop-up window or a text file, explaining that their files have been encrypted and demanding payment in exchange for the decryption key.
Some high-profile examples of ransomware attacks include WannaCry, Petya, and Ryuk. These attacks have affected businesses, hospitals, and government agencies around the world, causing significant disruption and financial losses.
How Does Ransomware Work?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that is designed to extort money from victims by holding their data hostage. There are many different types of ransomware, but they all work in a similar way: they encrypt the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and then demand payment in exchange for the decryption key. In this section, we will discuss the mechanics of ransomware attacks, including the delivery methods, the types of data that are typically targeted, and the steps involved in carrying out an attack.
Ransomware attacks can be delivered through a variety of channels, including email, social media, and malicious websites. The most common delivery method is email, where attackers send out phishing emails that trick users into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. Once the user clicks on the link or opens the attachment, the ransomware is installed on their device, and the encryption process begins. Other delivery methods include malvertising, which involves injecting malicious code into legitimate online advertising, and exploit kits, which are tools used by attackers to take advantage of vulnerabilities in software.
Types of Data Targeted
Ransomware attacks typically target files that are important to the victim, such as documents, photos, and videos. The attackers may also target databases or other critical systems, depending on the nature of the victim’s business or organization. In some cases, the attackers may threaten to leak sensitive data if the victim does not pay the ransom. This is known as “double extortion” and is becoming increasingly common among ransomware attacks.
Steps Involved in an Attack
The first step in a ransomware attack is to gain access to the victim’s device or network. This can be accomplished through a variety of tactics, including phishing emails, social engineering, and exploiting software vulnerabilities. Once the attacker has gained access, they will begin encrypting the victim’s files, using a complex encryption algorithm that makes it virtually impossible to decrypt the files without the decryption key.
The attackers will then demand payment in exchange for the decryption key, typically in the form of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Once the ransom is paid, the attackers will provide the decryption key, allowing the victim to regain access to their files.
How do I get ransomware?
according to malwarebyte, here is 4 ways how you can infected by ransomware
- Malspam: To gain access, some threat actors use spam, where they send an email with a malicious attachment to as many people as possible, seeing who opens the attachment and “takes the bait,” so to speak. Malicious spam, or malspam, is unsolicited email that is used to deliver malware. The email might include booby-trapped attachments, such as PDFs or Word documents. It might also contain links to malicious websites.
- Malvertising: Another popular infection method is malvertising. Malvertising, or malicious advertising, is the use of online advertising to distribute malware with little to no user interaction required. While browsing the web, even legitimate sites, users can be directed to criminal servers without ever clicking on an ad. These servers catalog details about victim computers and their locations, and then select the malware best suited to deliver. Often, that malware is ransomware. Malvertising often uses an infected iframe, or invisible webpage element, to do its work. The iframe redirects to an exploit landing page, and malicious code attacks the system from the landing page via exploit kit. All this happens without the user’s knowledge, which is why it’s often referred to as a drive-by-download.
- Spear phishing: A more targeted means to a ransomware attack is through spear phishing. An example of spear phishing would be sending emails to employees of a certain company, claiming that the CEO is asking you to take an important employee survey, or the HR department is requiring you to download and read a new policy. The term “whaling” is used to describe such methods targeted toward high-level decision makers in an organization, such as the CEO or other executives.
- Social engineering: Malspam, malvertising, and spear phishing can, and often do, contain elements of social engineering. Threat actors may use social engineering in order to trick people into opening attachments or clicking on links by appearing as legitimate—whether that’s by seeming to be from a trusted institution or a friend. Cybercriminals use social engineering in other types of ransomware attacks, such as posing as the FBI in order to scare users into paying them a sum of money to unlock their files. Another example of social engineering would be if a threat actor gathers information from your public social media profiles about your interests, places you visit often, your job, etc., and using some of that information to send you a message that looks familiar to you, hoping you’ll click before you realize it’s not legitimate.
How does ransomware affect my business?
GandCrab, SamSam, WannaCry, NotPetya—they’re all different types of ransomware and they’re hitting businesses hard. In fact, ransomware attacks on businesses went up 88% in the second half of 2018 as cybercriminals pivot away from consumer-focused attacks. Cybercriminals recognize big business translates to big payoffs, targeting hospitals, government agencies, and commercial institutions. All told, the average cost of a data breach, including remediation, penalties, and ransomware payouts, works out to $3.86 million.
The majority of ransomware cases as of late have been identified as GandCrab. First detected in January of 2018, GandCrab has already gone through several versions as the threat authors make their ransomware harder to defend against and strengthen its encryption. It’s been estimated GandCrab has already raked in somewhere around $300 million in paid ransoms, with individual ransoms set from $600 to $700,000. The costs can also include:
- Ransom payments: Victims of ransomware attacks are often forced to pay a ransom to the attackers in order to regain access to their files. The amount demanded can vary widely, but it is typically in the range of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
- Recovery costs: In addition to the ransom payment, victims of ransomware attacks may also incur additional costs for recovery, such as restoring backups or rebuilding systems.
- Downtime: Ransomware attacks can cause significant disruption to businesses and organizations, resulting in lost productivity and revenue.
- Reputation damage: Ransomware attacks can also damage the reputation of a business or organization, particularly if sensitive data is stolen or leaked as part of the attack.
How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware
The best way to protect yourself from ransomware attacks is to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity. By implementing best practices for cybersecurity and staying informed about the latest threats, individuals and organizations can reduce their risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack. In this section, we will discuss some best practices for ransomware prevention, including software updates, antivirus protection, and data backup and recovery.
One of the most important steps in protecting against ransomware attacks is to keep your software up-to-date. Software updates often include security patches that address known vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of a successful attack. Some best practices for software updates include: Turning on automatic updates: Many software programs, including operating systems and antivirus software, offer automatic updates that can be turned on in the settings. Keeping all software up-to-date: It’s important to update all software programs regularly, not just the ones that have automatic updates. Being cautious with updates: It’s important to only download software updates from trusted sources, as attackers may use fake software updates to deliver ransomware.
Another important step in protecting against ransomware attacks is to use antivirus software. Antivirus software can help detect and prevent ransomware attacks by scanning files and emails for known threats. Some best practices for antivirus protection include:
- Choosing a reputable antivirus program: There are many different antivirus programs available, so it’s important to do research and choose one that is reputable and well-reviewed.
- Keeping antivirus software up-to-date: Like other software programs, antivirus software should be kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and virus definitions.
- Performing regular scans: It’s important to perform regular scans of your computer or network to detect any potential threats.
Data Backup and Recovery
One of the most important steps in protecting against ransomware attacks is to back up your data regularly. This can help ensure that even if your files are encrypted by ransomware, you can still recover them without paying the ransom. Some best practices for data backup and recovery include:
Using an offsite backup: It’s important to keep backups of your data offsite, so that they are not affected by a ransomware attack on your local computer or network.
Keeping multiple backups: It’s a good idea to keep multiple backups of your data, so that you have redundancy in case one backup is compromised.
Testing your backups: It’s important to test your backups regularly to ensure that they are working properly and can be used to recover your data in the event of an attack.
In this blog post, we have discussed the threat of ransomware and the importance of taking steps to protect yourself and your organization from this type of attack. Here’s a recap of the key points made in this post:
- Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key.
- Ransomware attacks can be devastating and can result in the loss of important data and financial resources.
- Ransomware attacks are often delivered through phishing emails, malicious links, or vulnerabilities in software.
- Protecting against ransomware requires a combination of proactive measures, such as disabling macros in Microsoft Office and being cautious of suspicious emails and links, as well as reactive measures, such as backing up your data regularly and using paid cybersecurity solutions.
- Educating yourself and your team about ransomware prevention is crucial to maintaining the security of your organization.
- Regularly checking the status of your antivirus software can help ensure that your computer is protected against ransomware and other types of malware.