What is ransomware? Ransomware definition
Ransomware is malware that blocks users’ access to their computers or files. It demands ransom payments for the user to gain access. Ransomware is a type of malware that can be mistakenly called “a virus locked my PC” or “a virus that took over my computer”, but it’s not a virus. Ransomware was first developed in the late 1980s. The payment was sent by snail mail. Ransomware authors today request payment via cryptocurrency or credit card. Attackers target individuals, businesses, and organizations of every kind. Some ransomware authors sell the service to other cybercriminals, which is known as Ransomware-as-a-Service or RaaS.
What is the procedure for a threat actor to carry out a ransomware operation? They must first gain access to a network or device. They can use the malware to encrypt or lock down your data and device by having access to it. Ransomware can be infected your computer in a variety of ways.
What is the best way to get ransomware?
Some threat actors use spam to gain access to their accounts. They send out an email with a malicious attachment to as many people as possible to see who opens it and takes the bait. Malicious spam (or malspam) is an unsolicited email used to distribute malware. You might find booby-trapped attachments in the email, such as Word documents or PDFs. You might also find links to malicious sites in the email.
Malvertising is another popular method of infecting users. Malvertising is also known as malicious advertising. It involves the use of online advertisements to spread malware without any user interaction. Users can navigate the internet, and even to legitimate websites, and be directed to criminal server sites without ever clicking an ad. These servers collect information about victim’s computers and their locations and then choose the most appropriate malware to deliver. This malware is often ransomware.
Malvertising uses infected iframes, or invisible web elements, to accomplish its tasks. The iframe links to an exploit landing page, where malicious code attacks the system via exploit tool. This happens without the user being aware and is often called a drive-by download.
Phishing is a serious problem
spearphishing is a more targeted way to attack ransomware. One example of spearphishing is when emails are sent to employees from a company claiming that the CEO wants you to complete an employee survey or that the HR department requires you to read and download a new policy. These methods are targeted at high-ranking decision-makers within an organization such as the CEO and other executives.
Malspam, spear phishing, and malvertising can all contain elements of socio-engineering. Threat actors might use social engineering to trick people into opening attachments and clicking on links. They may do this by appearing to be trusted institutions or friends. Social engineering is also used by cybercriminals to trick users into opening attachments or clicking on links.
Another example of social engineering is when a threat actor collects information about you via your social media accounts. He or she then uses that information to send a message to you that appears familiar, hoping that you will click on it before you realize that it is not genuine.
Ransom demand and encryption of files
Whatever the method, the attacker will gain access to your files and activate ransomware software. This is typically done by clicking a link or opening attachments. The ransomware software encrypts your files so that you cannot access them. You’ll see a message asking for a ransom payment to restore what they have taken. The attacker may demand payment in cryptocurrency.
Different types of ransomware
Ransomware can be of three types. They range in severity from mildly offensive to dangerous. These are the main types:
As it turns out, scareware isn’t that scary. This includes scams and rogue security software. A pop-up message might appear claiming that malware has been discovered. You must pay to remove it. You will likely be bombarded with popups if you don’t do anything, but your files remain safe.
This is not how legitimate cybersecurity software programs would solicit customers. You wouldn’t be monitored for ransomware infection if you didn’t have the company’s software installed on your computer. You don’t have to pay for ransomware removal if you have security software.
These guys will need to upgrade to terror alert orange. Lock-screen ransomware can cause your computer to be locked down. A full-size window appears when you start up your computer. It is often accompanied by a seal from the FBI or US Department of Justice stating that illegal activity was detected on your computer and that you must pay a penalty. The FBI will not block your access to your computer or demand payment. They would pursue the proper legal channels if they suspect you of child pornography, piracy, or any other cybercrimes.
This is the nasty stuff. These guys will encrypt your files, then demand payment to decrypt and deliver them. This ransomware is dangerous because cybercriminals can get hold of your files and no security software or system restoration will be able to return them. They are gone unless you pay the ransom. Even if you pay the ransom, it’s not guaranteed that cybercriminals will return your files.
Ransomware for Mac
The first ransomware to attack Mac OSes was released by Mac malware authors in 2016. The ransomware, KeRanger infected Transmission, an app that copied malware files and then waited for three days before it detonated and encrypted files. Apple’s anti-malware program XProtect was able to block the ransomware from infecting users’ systems. However, Mac ransomware has been proven to be real.
MacRansom and Findzip were the next to KeRanger, both of which were discovered in 2017. In 2020, ransomware was discovered ( ThiefQuest aka EvilQuest). However, it turned out to be what’s known as a “wiper”. As a cover, it claimed to be ransomware. It accessed all data and encrypted files. However, users could not decrypt the files or contact the gang to inquire about payment.
Ransomware first became popular on mobile devices after the 2014 emergence of CryptoLocker and similar families. Mobile ransomware usually displays the message that the device was locked because of some illegal activity. After paying a fee, the message will inform you that your phone will be unlocked. Mobile ransomware is commonly delivered by malicious apps. To retrieve your access to your mobile phone, you must turn off the dangers and restart the phone in safe mode.
Who do ransomware authors target?
Ransomware was first introduced and then reintroduced. Its initial victims were individuals (aka regular people). Cybercriminals realized its true potential when ransomware was distributed to businesses. Ransomware proved so effective against businesses that it halted productivity and resulted in lost data, and revenue, that most of its authors decided to attack them. End of 2016, 12.3% of global enterprises detected ransomware. Only 1.8% of consumer detections worldwide were ransomware. By 2017, 35% of medium- and small-sized businesses had been affected by ransomware.Ransomware report for small and medium-sized companies
Geographically, ransomware attacks remain focused on western markets. The top three countries that are being targeted are the United States, Canada, and the UK. Ransomware authors, like other threats actors, will look for areas with high PC adoption and relative wealth. Expect to see ransomware and other malware increase as emerging markets in Asia, South America, and the Americas ramp up their economic growth.
What should I do if I get infected?
If you are infected by ransomware, the number one rule is to not pay the ransom. This is the advice that has been endorsed by the FBI. This encourages cybercriminals to launch more attacks against you or another person. You may be able to retrieve encrypted files using free decryptors.
Let’s be clear: Not every ransomware family has had decryptors made for it. In many cases, ransomware uses advanced encryption algorithms. Even if there is a suitable decryptor, it is not always possible to determine if it is for the correct version of the malware. It is not a good idea to use the wrong decryption program to further encrypt files. Before you try anything, pay attention to the ransom message.
You can also download a security program that is capable of removing ransomware and run a scan to identify the threat. Although you may not be able to recover your files, the infection will be removed. A complete system restore may be necessary for screen-locking ransomware. You can also try a scan using a USB or bootable CD if that fails.
You must be vigilant if you want to stop an encrypting ransomware attack in its tracks. If your system is slowing down, even if it seems to be for no apparent reason, you should turn it off and disconnect it from the Internet. The malware will stop sending or receiving instructions from the command-and-control server if it is active after you restart your computer. The malware could remain inactive without a key or a way to obtain payment. You can then download and install security software and run a complete scan.
How can I avoid ransomware?
Security experts agree that the best way for ransomware protection is to prevent it from happening. Learn how to avoid ransomware infections.
There are many ways to combat ransomware infections. However, these are not perfect solutions and require more technical skills than the average user. Here’s what we suggest people do to avoid the fallout of ransomware attacks.
First, invest in amazing cybersecurity. This program provides real-time protection and is designed to stop advanced malware attacks like ransomware. Also, look for features that protect vulnerable programs (an anti-exploit technology) and stop ransomware holding files hostage with an anti-ransomware component. Customers who used the premium edition of Malwarebytes Windows were protected against all the major ransomware attacks in 2017.
You should also make regular backups of all your data, even though it might be painful. We recommend cloud storage with multiple-factor authentication and high-level encryption. You can also purchase USBs and an external hard drive to save files. However, after backing up make sure you physically disconnect the devices. Otherwise, ransomware can infect them.
Make sure that your software and systems are up-to-date. WannaCry ransomware exploited a Microsoft software vulnerability. The company released a patch to close the security loophole in March 2017. However, many people didn’t download the update. This left them vulnerable to attacks. It can be difficult to keep up with the ever-growing number of updates for software and apps you use every day. We recommend that you change your settings to allow automatic updates.
Keep informed. Social engineering is one of the most common ways computers become infected by ransomware. If you are a business owner, educate yourself as well as your employees on how to spot suspicious websites and other scams. Use common sense. It may be suspect.
What does ransomware do to my business?
GandCrab and SamSam are all ransomware types that hit businesses hard. As cybercriminals shift away from consumer-focused attacks, ransomware attacks against businesses increased 88% in the second half of 2018. Cybercriminals know that big business means big payouts and they target hospitals, government agencies, as well as commercial institutions. The average cost of data breaches, including penalties and remediation, is $3.86 million.
Most ransomware cases have been identified as GandCrab. GandCrab was first detected in January 2018. It has been through multiple versions since then, as ransomware authors make it harder to detect and stronger its encryption. GandCrab is estimated to have raked in $300,000,000 in ransom with individual ransoms ranging from $600 – $700,000.
Another notable attack occurred in March 2018. The SamSam ransomware hacked the City of Atlanta, causing it to be unable to perform essential services such as revenue collection and police record-keeping. The SamSam attack cost Atlanta $2.6million to fix.
Given the recent spate of ransomware-related attacks and the high cost involved with them, it is now a great time to start thinking about how you can protect your business. While we’ve already covered the topic extensively, here’s a brief overview of how to protect your company from ransomware.
- Back up your data. If you have backups, it is easy to restore a ransomware attack. Ransomware can infect network shares so you might want to scan backups. You would be wise to keep data backups on a secure cloud storage server with multiple-factor authentication and high-level encryption.
- Update and patch your software. Ransomware uses exploit kits to gain unauthorized access to networks or systems (e.g. GandCrab Exploit-based ransomware attacks are not possible as long as your network software is up to date. You are at risk of ransomware if you have outdated or insecure software. This is because software manufacturers no longer release security updates. Get rid of abandonware, and replace it with software that is still supported by the manufacturer.
- Your end-users should be taught about malspam, strong passwords, and how to prevent it. Emotet is being used by cybercriminals to deliver ransomware via the ex-banking Trojan. Emotet uses malspam to infect end-users and gain access to your network. Emotet spreads from one system to another using a list of common passwords once it has infected your network. You can keep your end-users safe by learning how to spot malware and using multi-factor authentication.
- Make investments in cybersecurity technology. Malwarebytes Endpoint Response for example allows you to detect, respond, and remediate your entire network using one agent. To learn more about ransomware protection technology, you can request a trial of Malwarebytes Anti-ransomware Technology.