The 6 Most Common Questions About Ransomware

Ransomware is a major security concern among both individuals and businesses today. With the frequency of ransomware attacks in recent years, it’s more important than ever to stay informed and protected. A single ransomware attack can lead to large amounts of compromised data and should be avoided through scrupulous protection methods. 

Let’s cover the most common questions about ransomware so that you can gather information about this significant cybersecurity threat. By taking a proactive approach to your cybersecurity, you can more effectively keep your data secure. 

Ransomware FAQs

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware designed to infiltrate victim’s computer systems and hold their data for ransom. Typically, the attacker will refuse to provide the decryption code until the victim pays a fee in Bitcoin, so that the payment can’t be traced. 

When Did Ransomware Start?

Ransomware attacks can be traced back to 1989, when Joseph Popp created the AIDS Trojan. This was the first ransomware virus to ever be identified, and it was distributed through a floppy disk. Popp distributed the disk, labeled “AIDS Information – Introductory Diskettes” to professionals at the AIDS conference of the World Health Organization. If the disk was inserted into a computer, the victim was ordered to pay $189 to the PC Cyborg Corporation. 

Ransomware attacks have largely grown in prominence since 1989, experiencing a spike in 2006 with other trojans. Ransomware remains a sizable threat to organizations, and cyberprotection is essential to neutralize this threat. 

How Can Cybercriminals Access My System To Launch Ransomware?

Cybercriminals use multiple methods to infect victims’ systems with malware. The most common methods include:

  • Phishing email campaigns
  • Social engineering
  • Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
  • Open ports on the Internet

The most common way for hackers currently to gain control of a computer system is to first send out a phishing email. Once the link in the phishing email is opened, the hacker will use RDP credentials to access the machine from inside of the network. Since RDP credentials are incredibly inexpensive on the dark web, this is one of the most attainable methods for hackers to access computer systems. 

Is It Possible For a Ransomware Attack To Spread Across a Network?

As is the case with any type of virus attack, ransomware can spread across a computer network. In this process, the ransomware can affect and close off vulnerable network servers and other endpoints. The goal of a ransomware attack is to cause as much damage as possible, so it’s always created to seek out links to other computer systems. The ability to spread across a network is one of the reasons why ransomware is so dangerous for organizations and can lead to a high amount of compromised data. 

How Can You Identify a Ransomware Attack Expanding Across a Network?

Ransomware attacks begin on one computer, then usually spread out sideways using connected drives. The attack will affect as many networks as possible and the spread is completed automatically. 

Sometimes, a hacker will utilize credentials obtained from an administrative account, such as an active domain controller. Once the hacker has gotten into the systems, they’ll have a look around to see what they can find. Usually, a high volume of sensitive data can be found on the system, including financial information. Once the target has a sense of the victim’s financial standing, they’ll use the information to gain an upper hand in the attack.   

Is It Possible To Remove Ransomware?

Once ransomware has infected your computer system, a factory reset would be required to remove the ransomware. This is far preferable to paying the ransom, even if doing so appears to be the more cost-effective solution. In paying the ransom, you’ll place a target on your organization for repeat attacks, as it informs hackers that you are a prime victim. 

So, rather than paying the ransom to remove the ransomware, work with Inletware to create a reliable response plan. We’ll help you isolate the attack and gather proper documentation on the attack. Professional help in your ransomware response will lower your risk for future attacks and ensure that your data is secured moving forward.   

Types of Ransomware Attacks To Look Out For

Given that businesses today, regardless of size or industry, rely on some sort of computer system to operate, cybersecurity is a prevalent concern. Securing your data against the threat of cybercriminals is crucial to protect your customers’ and employees’ information, as well as sensitive information about your business. Whether it be financial records, business plans, or new product information, businesses can’t afford for their data to be compromised. 

For vulnerable businesses, ransomware attacks can strike at any time and leave a lasting mark. Here, we’ll go over the main types of ransomware attacks so that you can better protect yourself against cybersecurity threats. Keep in mind that with cybersecurity experts by your side, you’ll have a long-term strategy for ransomware protection. 

Defining Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that pervades a computer system and encrypts data files. Once the ransomware has infiltrated the victim’s system, the hacker holds the data for ransom, only returning data access to the victim once a payment has been made. 

At this point, the victim will be provided with instructions to make the payment and receive the decryption key. In a ransomware attack, a hacker may demand hundreds or thousands of dollars, and the payment must typically be made in Bitcoin. 

How Does Ransomware Reach My System?

Hackers can use a few different methods for ransomware to overtake your system. For one, they may use phishing spam. This common type of cyberattack comes in the form of an email with attachments pretending to come from a trusted source. Once the victim opens the email, downloads the attachments, and opens the attachments, the ransomware can overtake the victim’s computer.

Types of Ransomware Attacks

Many types of ransomware attacks have spread throughout the world in previous years, the most significant of which we’ll list below. By knowing these ransomware attack types, you have more information with which to protect your own information. 

WannaCry

WannaCry is an internationally-known ransomware type that’s hit more than 125,000 entities across the globe. In fact, the organizations affected by WannaCry spanned 150 countries. WannaCry is now a highly recognizable ransomware attack around the world. 

It was crafted to abuse a weakness in the Windows system by an entity dubbed the “United States National Security Agency”. The healthcare industry was hit particularly hard by WannaCry, and the attack brought attention to the out-of-date systems used by hospitals globally. Billions of dollars were lost at the hands of WannaCry, making it one of the most destructive ransomware attacks in recent years. 

Locky

Locky is a ransomware attack that was introduced in 2016. It infiltrated victims’ computer systems using phishing; false emails were sent to victims claiming to hold an invoice. Once the victims downloaded and opened the “invoice”, it was deleted automatically. Then, the victims were instructed to enable macros in order to view the attachment. Once macros were enabled, the Locky software was able to encrypt files with AES encryption. 

Cerber

Cerber is a destructive ransomware type known for having a decryptor for every variant that works in 12 separate languages. With this flexibility, Cerber opened up the opportunity for creators to develop affiliate systems. So, creators could generate large sums of money on the side from their own cyber attacks.

The Cerber software specifically targeted users on Office 365 using an advanced phishing campaign. Millions of people and organizations have already fallen victim to Cerber. 

GoldenEye

GoldenEye is related to Petya, a well-known ransomware attack that emerged in 2016. Using a large-scale social engineering campaign, GoldenEye sought out human resource departments as targets. Once the victim downloaded the file with GoldenEye ransomware, a macro launched and began to encrypt the victims’ data. 

Jigsaw

Jigsaw is a type of ransomware that encrypts, then gradually deletes, encrypted files until the victim pays the ransom. Files are deleted one at a time, hour by hour, for 72 hours, at which point all of the files are deleted. This creates additional stress for the victim. This ransomware type was dubbed “Jigsaw” for its inclusion of an image of the puppet from the Saw movies. To protect your home or business against ransomware, contact Inletware today. We’ll help you out a comprehensive cybersecurity plan in place.

Disclaimer


Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. Mac and OS X are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. InletWare is an IT consultation third party company and reseller of multiple brands


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