Ransomware is a cryptographic malware that threatens to release or permanently block access to the victim’s data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware encrypts information and documents on any device, including servers, from a single computer to an entire organization’s network. Ransomwares are part of cryptovirology. Cryptovirology is the study of the creation of effective harmful malware using encryption.
Ransomwares encrypt the victim’s files making them unusable and demand a ransom to unlock them. Recovery of documents without the decryption key is an unsolvable problem in a properly executed cryptoviral extortion attack. The payment of ransoms is demanded in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, making it impossible to track down and prosecute the culprits.
Recent Ransomware attacks
The WannaCry ransomware attack swept across the Internet in May 2017, employing the EternalBlue vulnerability vector. The ransomware attack, which was unparalleled in scope, infected over 230,000 devices in over 150 countries and demanded money from customers using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency in 20 different languages. At least 16 hospitals in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) had to turn away patients or cancel scheduled surgeries. The US Colonial Pipeline was the target of a cyberattack on May 7, 2021. DarkSide was recognised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the culprit of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware assault, which resulted in the voluntary shutdown of the primary pipeline carrying 45 percent of petroleum to the US East Coast.
How Attackers Attack?
- Ransomware comes as an email attachment – Invoice, attached document, etc. It may include a real vendor’s name or even your organization’s name.
- Employees’ computers are usually connected to the company’s network, shared cloud services, and so on. Without any human involvement or indication, ransomware begins encrypting all of the files it can as soon as it is launched.
- It then notifies the user and gives payment instructions.
- Some other ways are – Compromised webpages, infected removable drives, malicious software bundles.
- Payment is mostly in Bitcoins
– Pay the ransom and get data
– Restore from backup
– Lose Data
Paying the Ransom increases Risk of Future Attacks
The majority of cybersecurity experts don’t recommend paying a ransom in the event of a ransomware attack. Paying won’t guarantee that a company will get their data and it will encourage hackers behind ransomware attacks to keep doing what they’re doing, maintaining the illegal industry. The targets of a ransomware attacks are mostly given a time limit with the threat of deleting a particular amount of data every hour until the ransom is paid. This can be extremely stressful and unpleasant for the key management people in an organization, leading them to believe that they have no other option except to pay. The best suggestion is to be properly prepared for an attack so that enterprise firms can defend themselves.
Ransomware and Cryptocurrency
Bitcoins are a type of cryptocurrency, which means they don’t have a physical form. They are kept in anonymous digital wallets. They can be sent to any location. They can be paid with complete anonymity from anywhere to anywhere. Aside from the advantages, they are an excellent method of payment for illegal operations. One may claim that cryptocurrency is one of the ransomware’s enablers. After all, the software would be worthless if the hackers couldn’t safely take cash. The emergence of Bitcoin has coincided with an increase in ransomware attacks.
Security Awareness Training
It is advised that effective security awareness training is required. Employees do not come to work with the goal of clicking on phishing emails and infecting their machines. As many IT professionals can confirm, knowing what red flags or threat is, can make all the difference in an employee’s ability to distinguish malicious links/software from legitimate traffic.
Investing in a renowned security solution and putting in a strong firewall is a terrific approach to protect an organization’s network. There are various security solutions like Zero-Trust Security, Web Application Firewall and Cloud Security. Keeping the security system up to date will assist security teams in detecting a ransomware infection in the early phase.
Backup of Data
The most important piece of advice given by anti-ransomware experts is to back up all data outside of your organization’s network. Create an isolated network or buy a service to keep the company’s backup safe from infection. It’s necessary for an enterprise firm to restore the whole system.
Ransomwares have grown into malware that disables entire infrastructure. It won’t be surprising if ransomwares evolve in the next few years. Hence, necessary steps to secure an organization should be taken into consideration.