How To Recognize Ransomware

What Is Ransomware? 

Ransomware is malicious software created to block access to a computer system or files until the computer’s owner pays a certain amount of money. 

Typically, the attackers encrypt the files in the targeted computers so that the victim can’t access the files without a decryption key. The attacker then demands the victim to pay for the decryption key to regain access.

In some cases, the attacker may threaten to leak or publicize some sensitive information stored in the victim’s device. This kind of attack is popularly known as “doxware” or “leakware.” This could be any confidential data, compromising personal photos, and emails, among others.

How Ransomware Works

Most attackers send the ransomware via emails that appear legitimate, coaxing you to download an attachment or click a link that delivers the malicious software. This bug can also be transferred through unexpected attacks on malicious websites. 

In some cases, attackers target weak passwords or getting a foothold on a targeted device via connections such as Wi-Fi hotspots. 

Note that once you’ve opened the malicious file, everything else happens fast and invisibly behind the scenes. You may not realize for some minutes, hours, or days that your computer has been affected. This will depend on when the ransomware is designed to trigger encryption and reveal its presence.

Examples of common ransomware attacks and their effects include:

Wannacry, 2017

Wannacry ransomware is designed to exploit computers running on Windows operating systems. This malware has a self-propagating medium that allows it to infect other machines. 

The attackers use this ransomware to encrypt Windows-operated computers and demand a payoff to restore access. The Wannacry managed to spread across 150 counties in 2017 and caused estimated financial losses of $4 billion globally.

Ryuk, 2019 and 2020

This ransomware encrypts the computer and automatically starts to delete the files until the ransom is paid. Typically, it deletes one or more files every hour for 72 hours. If the ransom isn’t paid within 72 hours, all the encrypted files will be deleted systematically. This ransomware has caused losses worth $ 60 million.

CryptoLocker, 2013

The CryptoLocker ransomware is designed to encrypt computer files using a file extension. The attacker then threatens to erase all the private keys within specified days unless you pay the ransom payment. If the victim agrees to pay the demanded amount, a private key will be given via a particular online tool.

Effects of Ransomware Attacks

Below are the ramifications of ransomware attacks:

  • Possibly permanent or temporary loss of essential data
  • Damage of personal or organization’s reputation
  • Financial loss following shutdown of profitable operations
  • Possible, total shutdown of companies’ operations
  • Financial loss caused by remediation expenses

How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware Attacks

The following are proven expert ways you can guard your company against cyber-attacks:

  • Keep systems up-to-date
  • Train your employees
  • Be cautious with email attachments and links
  • Update the passwords regularly
  • Secure your internet connections
  • Control access to your computers
  • Work with an IT company like this Indiana managed service provider
  • Use data backup and recovery techniques for critical information

A cyber-attack can cripple your business or tarnish your personal reputation and cost you a hefty sum of money. This post explains ransomware in great detail and outlines what you can do to protect your business against this malware and avoid its consequences.