Ransomware is malware that uses encryption to obtain victim information as a ransom. Important user or organization data is encrypted and cannot access files, databases, or applications. Next, a ransom is required for access. Ransomware, which is often designed to spread to networks and target databases and file servers, can quickly cause an organization to malfunction. There is an increasing threat of generating billions of dollars in payments to cybercriminals and causing significant damage and cost to businesses and government agencies.
Ransomware uses asymmetric encryption. This is an encryption that uses a key pair to encrypt and decrypt files. The public / private key pair is individually generated by the attacker for the victim, along with the private key used to decrypt the files stored on the attacker’s server. This is not always the case, as seen in recent ransomware campaigns, but attackers only provide the victim with a private key after the ransom has been paid. Without access to the private key, it is almost impossible to decrypt the files held for the ransom. There are many variations of ransomware. Ransomware (and other malware) is often distributed via spam email campaigns or targeted attacks. Malware requires an attack vector to establish itself at the endpoint. After presence is established, malware stays on the system until its task is accomplished.
After a successful exploit, ransomware drops and executes a malicious binary on the infected system. This binary then searches and encrypts valuable files, such as Microsoft Word documents, images, databases, and so on. The ransomware may also exploit system and network vulnerabilities to spread to other systems and possibly across entire organizations.
Once files are encrypted, ransomware prompts the user for a ransom to be paid within 24 to 48 hours to decrypt the files, or they will be lost forever. If data backups are not available, or if these backups are self-encrypted, the victim will have to pay a ransom to restore the personal files.
Use of new technologies such as Encryption of the entire disk instead of the selected file
Today’s thieves don’t have to be tech savvy. The ransomware market is emerging online, offering malware stocks to all potential cybercriminals and bringing additional revenue to malware authors who often demand a reduction in ransom revenue.
Why is it difficult to find a ransomware attacker? Using anonymous cryptocurrencies for payments, such as Bitcoin, makes it difficult to follow the path of money and track criminals. Cybercrime groups are increasingly developing ransomware schemes to make quick profits. The out-of-the-box availability of open source code and drag-and-drop ransomware development has accelerated the creation of new ransomware variants, allowing novice scripters to create their own ransomware. State-of-the-art malware, such as ransomware, is usually polymorphic, and cybercriminals can easily circumvent traditional signature-based security based on file hashes.
Ransomware as a service is a cybercrime economic model that allows malware authors to make money for their creation without spreading the threat. Non-technical criminals buy products and initiate infections, paying developers a certain percentage of their revenue. Developers are relatively risk-free and customers do most of the work. Some instances of the ransomware service use subscriptions, while others require registration to access the ransomware.
Follow these tips to avoid ransomware and mitigate the damage when attacked:
The best way to avoid the risk of being locked out of important files is to always have a backup copy of them in the cloud and external hard drive, if possible. In this way, if you get infected with ransomware, you can wipe your computer or device and reinstall the files from the backup. This protects your data and does not pay the malware author a ransom. Backup cannot prevent ransomware, but it can mitigate the risk.
Make sure that you cannot change the backup data or delete it from the system where the data resides. Ransomware looks for backups of your data and encrypts or deletes them so that they cannot be restored. Therefore, use a backup system that does not allow direct access to backup files. Keep everything up to date with security software Make sure that all your computers and devices are protected by comprehensive security software and keep all software up to date. Bug patches are usually included in every update, so be sure to update your device’s software early and frequently.
Pay attention to where you click. Do not reply to emails or text messages from strangers, and download the application only from trusted sources. This is important because malware authors often use social engineering to entice them to install dangerous files.
Avoid using public WiFi networks, as many are insecure and cybercriminals can spy on the use of the Internet. Instead, consider installing a VPN that provides a secure connection to the Internet wherever you are.
Stay up to date on the latest ransomware threats and know what to look out for. If you are infected with ransomware and have not backed up all your files, you need to know that some decryption tools are provided by your technology company.