What is Ransomware and How to Protect Your Business From It?

As business networks have become too common these days, attacks on these networks by cyber criminals have become a major concern among business owners. One of the most prominent ones is the ransomware attack.  Throughout 2021, it made several headlines and continued in 2022 as well.

And just when we thought only major businesses would be their target then it proved wrong. Even the smaller organizations and startups couldn’t spare themselves from these attacks. These days, a huge number of government agencies, companies, and even individuals have become their victims.

What is Ransomware and How to Protect Your Business From It?

Doesn’t this sound scary that you just turn on your PC, log into your account, and all of your data has become encrypted? You will then get a note from the hacker to pay a significant amount to recover the files. This is what a ransomware attack looks like. Continue reading to learn more about ransomware attacks.

What Is Ransomware Attack?

This is a malware attack where the data of the users will be encrypted by hackers, from a folder to even a small text file. It can even lock the entire device until a ransom is paid to the hacker.

The major thing about this attack is that it is not a virus attack. It usually enters through the phishing process. Where the user will receive a mail with a somewhat legit-looking attachment or link.

If a pc or a network has a security vulnerability then it will infect it by encrypting its files and folders. Or they can lock the device. They will then get a notice where they will be demanded to pay a certain amount. It is usually bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. Because it cannot be traced so hackers can hide their identity.

Not only just the physical setups but cloud networks can also become victims of cloud ransomware attacks as well. Usually, a malicious browser extension will ask for cloud access to their cloud account. Once they got it, the rest is history.

The Main Vector Of Ransomware Attacks

Being aware of the mechanics of ransomware can help you prevent these attacks. Among them are the vectors and avenues used by the attackers. Following are the major vectors of ransomware attacks.

●     Malware

This is an umbrella term for any malicious activity happening on your computer. In ransomware attacks, however, this is usually a trojan horse. It is usually a file that looks too legit for any user. Once it is opened, it will take over the user’s pc. It will encrypt entire data or lock the pc.

If the hacker is asking you for a ransom then you will need to give them the amount. Once you are done, the encryption will be over and you can retrieve the data. However, in several cases, the files aren’t fully recovered or the hackers still hold the data for future malicious purposes.

●     Pop-ups

Though there can be several answers regarding what is the main vector of ransomware attacks, among the various web-based vector for ransomware attacks are popups and ads.

These popups can be too distracting for any users. They may look real from a legit brand. Once users clicked on them, they will either redirect to another window with malicious links or may download ransomware as malware to their computer.

●     Email Attachments

Just imagine you got your first job and got a mail from your trusted brand. It had a link to some lucrative offer. You clicked it and nothing happened at that point. However, after a while, your system got locked and you have no idea what just happened. This is how ransomware spreads.

The email user receives from unknown mediums or brands are usually known as phishing attacks. They are the most common vector of ransomware attacks. They are also considered to be the major vector of ransomware attacks as well.

With the email you receive, you will be convinced to click on that link or check the attachment. You will download the ransomware to your system. Usually

One of the most popular ways for ransomware to spread is through phishing assaults. In these attacks, hackers are successful in persuading a person to open an attachment or click on a link, which makes the ransomware get into their system.

In this ransomware attack method, cybercriminals frequently assume the identity of someone the victim trusts. They deceive them so they may access the administrative side.

●     Text Messages

Text messages are the answer for what is ransomware as a service! Yes, this is a fact. They are widely used platforms to spread ransomware among users and corporations.

Phishing, spoofing, and spam are the major culprits. The attackers will often use ransomware as a service or malware for hire so they can easily execute a ransomware attack. 

A user’s device downloads ransomware when they click a link, and it can then spread to every person in their contact list, including colleagues.

While there are different types of ransomware attacks and all of them are dangerous. Such as Darkside or Ryuk. All of them possess dangers of their own.

However, the major ransomware attack that shook the entire world was Wannacry Ransmoware attack. Its major vector is also phishing.

The ransom demand was eventually raised to $600 worth of bitcoins within 6 days after the attackers initially requested $300 worth of bitcoins within 3 days. Keep in mind that it was demanded by each user and over +250K systems were affected in this ransomware attack.

●     What Is The Wannacry Ransomware Attack?

In this ransomware attack, the important user data and file is encrypted which will be unencrypted after an exchange of money which is usually cryptocurrency.

They are also known as crypto-ransomware because of the use of encryption. If you are locked outside of your computer then it will be called locker ransomware.

In 2017, it affected more than +250K computers and was the major ransomware attack in history.

●     What Is Ryuk Ransomware?

Just like the other ransomware, the Ryuk ransomware also encrypts the data and files on any network and system. However, what is unique about Ryuk ransomware is that it isnt automated.

In fact, it is humanly operated. It doenst just affect the masses but it carefully selects its target and then does its work. Because it is human operated so there can be a multitude of attacks executed at once.

●     What Is Darkside Ransomware?

The Darkside ransomware or RaaS or ransomware as a service just acts like a regular service yet it helps spread the ransomware in systems usually mobile devices. Like text messages mentioned above.

In this ransomware, once the ransom is received, the share is divided among the affiliates and RaaS owners. The hacker group, which uses a more sophisticated economic strategy, provides a shining example of modern ransomware.

How Organizations Can Secure Themselves From Ransomware?

No business is immune to ransomware. There are some ways that businesses can protect and prepare themselves from ransomware attacks:

  • Educate your employees about the threat of ransomware and how to avoid it.
  • Use a reliable antivirus program and keep it up to date.
  • Create regular backups of your data and store them offline.
  • Be cautious when opening email attachments or clicking on links from unknown sources.
  • Use a firewall to block access to known ransomware-related domains.
  • Disable macros in Microsoft Office files.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date.
  • Restrict access to sensitive data.
  • Implement a security policy that includes ransomware prevention.
  • Monitor your network for unusual activity.

About the author

David Wille has over 7 years of company experience in intellectual property research and is a graduate of computer science. He is a scholar with interests in many different fields of study.