Ransomware in businesses

Definition of ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the files of a victim. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim in exchange for restoring access to the data.

Users are shown how to pay a charge to obtain the decryption key. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, and are paid in Bitcoin to hackers.

How does ransomware operate?

There are several ways ransomware might get access to a computer. One of the most prevalent methods of distribution is phishing spam, which consists of attachments sent to the target in an email disguised as a file they should trust.

They can take control of the victim's computer once downloaded and opened, especially if they contain built-in social engineering techniques that deceive people into granting administrative access. Other, more aggressive kinds of ransomware, such as NotPetya, employ security flaws to infect machines without the need to deceive people.

Once the virus has seized control of the victim's computer, one of the most common actions is to encrypt some or all of the user's files. If you're looking for technical information, the Infosec Institute gives a wonderful in-depth look at how various types of ransomware encrypt files.

The most crucial point to remember is that the files cannot be decrypted without a mathematical key known only to the attacker at the end of the process. The user is informed that their data is now inaccessible and will only be decrypted if the victim submits an untraceable Bitcoin payment to the attacker.

In some varieties of malware, the attacker may pretend to be a law enforcement agency, shutting down the victim's computer owing to the presence of unlicensed software on it and demanding the payment of a "fine," possibly to discourage victims from reporting the attack to authorities.

However, most attacks do not bother with this ruse. There is also a variant known as leakware or doxware in which the attacker threatens to make sensitive data on the victim's hard drive public unless a ransom is paid. However, because locating and extracting such information is a difficult task for attackers, encryption ransomware is by far the most common variety.

The Various Types of Ransomware Attacks

Cybercriminals' software and strategies grow in tandem with technological advancements. Because of the proliferation of cloud services and easy access to advanced encryption technologies, bad actors can enhance their abilities and harm even the most secure networks.

Earlier approaches relied on access controls to change passwords using locker virus, keeping people out of their systems. This worked effectively, but improved account recovery solutions from software and service providers assisted customers in overcoming such attacks.

Crypto ransomware is the most recent sort of assault. This encrypts files on the user's PC, compelling them to pay the hackers in crypto money or credit cards to get the files decrypted. Both approaches still rely on gaining access to the system, therefore protecting your networks is critical.

7 Ransomware Dos and Don'ts

There is much you can do to defend yourself from ransomware assaults.

A proactive approach to network and device security is essential, but you may also strengthen your system's defenses to aid in recovery if an attack is successful.

1. Do not pay the ransom.

If an attack is successful, do not pay the ransom demanded. While this may be the easiest option to recover access, it may turn you into a frequent target.

It will also empower the attackers, causing them to repeat the same method on other firms and reinvest the money they've made from you back into their scheme.

By refusing to pay the ransom, you decrease the effectiveness of the criminal enterprise. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that paying the ransom would solve your problem.

2. Restore Backups of Your Systems

You should have a regular backup procedure in place to protect yourself from ransomware assaults.

Even if the attack is successful, redoing a few days' or a week's worth of work is preferable to succumbing to the extortion. The stronger your backup system, the more effectively you will be able to respond to an assault.

3. Personal information should not be included in emails.

Hackers utilize social engineering techniques to acquire network access. Any personal information provided in emails or communications assists them in planning a more successful attack.

Keeping personal information secure during daily workflows reduces their ability to create a phishing email that appears to be from a legitimate source.

4. Install Antivirus and Firewall Software on Your Network and Devices

To prevent an attack, every organization should have a network security policy that employs cutting-edge threat detection technology.

Firewall definitions comprise the websites and software that cybercriminals frequently use in their assaults.

If someone tries to access these sites from within your network, the system will stop them and notify your network security professionals or your IT partner.

5. Invest in Email Server Content Scanning and Filtering Solutions.

Email is the most common form of communication between employees and businesses. Because emails can come from anyone, making sure you examine the content and filter out harmful emails before they reach your inbox will increase your security.

Content filtering systems will identify questionable emails and deactivate any links contained inside them.

6. Maintain Patching Policies for Security

Ensure that all servers, workstations, printers, and other network devices receive the necessary security patches on a regular basis.

Hackers are constantly looking for flaws in current systems and striking when they locate a vulnerability. Maintaining a security patching policy as patches become available reduces the likelihood of an attack succeeding significantly.

7. Implement a BYOD policy for all personal devices.

With more employees connecting to the company's network using their own devices, it's critical to incorporate these devices in your BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) security policy.

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) anytime employees connect from outside the regular network protects your data. The same firewall and end-point scanning rules should apply to mobile devices as they do to any other desktop or laptop device: even the smallest gadgets can be used by hackers to gain access to your system.

Considerations for Dealing with a Ransomware Attack

Backup and encrypt data: Make sure you backup all information on a regular basis (and encrypt backups to protect them from criminals).

Educate staff: Make employees aware of the risks they face on a regular basis. Highlight the many phishing strategies used by thieves and how to detect fraudulent emails.

Apply security updates: Install security fixes on all devices, servers, printers, and other networked equipment when they become available.

Final Thoughts

In light of recent developments, many firms have found themselves playing catch-up, attempting to create improvised cloud solutions in order to regain lost ground while their workforces move to remote work for the foreseeable future. Combating cyberattacks is a difficult but vital component of any modern organization, and adopting cloud services can assist in creating a waterproof business.

To learn more about how the cloud may help your organization prepare for the future, visit Today Cybersecurity.