Computer Ransom Attack: What Does It Mean?

What is Computer Ransom Attack?

The regular malware attacks on computers were focused on stealing data, corrupting, or destroying them. But in recent years, malware attacks on computers took a new dimension—ceasing victims’ data and asking for a ransom before releasing it. This situation depicts what computer ransom attack entails. However, this type of attack on computer users is best known as ransomware.

What is a computer ransom attack? Of course, that is ransomware attacks. The first ransomware attack occurred in 1989. Although the attack was mild and no ransom was paid. However, the recent ransomware attacks that drifted since the mid-2000s have cost companies, individuals, and government agencies millions of dollars.

What is Computer Ransom Attack?

How Ransomware Attacks Occur?

Cybercriminals are the creators of ransomware. They want to cease your data and get money from victims fraudulently. So they target data-driven organizations—businesses, schools, healthcare providers, government agencies, and more. The methods of attacks revolve around phishing. Here are the methods the criminals deploy:

Email/Attachments

To have you open a malicious attachment, they send deceitful emails with attachments that may persuade you to open the attachment. These attachments are infected with malicious codes that will take over your system and reveal your information to the attacker.

To prevent ransomware attacks, ensure you watch emails you receive carefully before opening any attachment. They may also impersonate your business associate, service providers, etc. If possible, call your service providers or any correspondence on the email to confirm the sender.

Social Media

Like emails, ransomware attackers also spread ransomware malware through social media sites. They may send attachments or infected links to you with wrong messages. The messages may appear legitimate but loaded with malware via the links or attachment.

You can prevent this by checking short URLs on URLs tools to see what the URLs contain. Or you want to avoid clicking links from senders you don’t know.

Software

Downloading software from cracked software sites can land you in ransomware’s net. Most cracked software has malware in them, which could attack your computer after installing it. On the other hand, cracked software does not receive updates from the main developers, and you risk being easily attacked. Most updates help to patch security vulnerabilities, and you won’t get it on a cracked software.

You can prevent this by avoiding cracked software. Always get your computer programs from reliable platforms.

Website Pop-ups

This is another method of spreading ransomware malware. Cybercriminals who own suspicious websites may display pop-ups asking you to update an application on your computer once you’re on their webpage.

Ensure you don’t click on everything that pops up when navigating random websites for whatsoever.

Ransomware Impacts

Aside from financial losses, ransomware has other negative consequences. Here’s a detailed look:

Temporal or Permanent Loss of Sensitive Information

During the ransomware attacks, victims are denied access to their data, which could mean a temporary loss of data. While most victims recover their data after paying a ransom, there are cases where victims couldn’t recover their data. Unless you have your data backed up, you do lose your data permanently if the attacker fails to lift the restriction. So it’s a two-way thing, you may recover your information or lose them.

Disrupts Regular Operations

The ransomware attack on the Baltimore City government crippled regular operations for one month. As you may know, ransomware attacks cease essential data, thereby halting their victims’ day-to-day activities. This impact extends to many other losses, including profits and customers. Not to mention the effect on patients, in the case of healthcare providers. And in recent times, healthcare providers have been major targets of ransomware. Perhaps because of the importance of data to their daily operations.

Financial Loses

Apart from the ransom paid to scammers, ransomware victims pay more money to have their systems restored as the returned data by the criminals won’t be as it was before the attacks. Some businesses may incur substantial financial stress to get their systems back.

Damages Business Reputation

For businesses that host users’ information, ransomware attacks can also access users’ private information, which may result in loss of trust. Customers may want to look elsewhere as they may feel their private information may be revealed often.

How to Prevent Ransomware

Cybersecurity can help you prevent ransomware attacks. In addition to detecting phishing scams, you should get the best security systems to protect your data. Apart from using antiviruses/anti-malware, you need advanced endpoint protection to tackle advanced malware like ransomware.

Data backup is also necessary. You can recover your data even when you lose them to physical disasters.

Related Resources

Free Website Malware Scanner

How Can Ransomware Spread?

How to remove Gandcrab v5 0.4 ransomware

Many years ago, in 1989, precisely—a seminar organized by the world health organization witnessed attendees’ data restricted after using an AIDS guide diskette on their computers. This diskette was loaded with malicious codes instead of the information it claimed to have about AIDS. The creator of the malware, Joseph Popp, who was actually an AIDS researcher, requested a certain sum from the victims before the restrictions could be lifted. However, the attack was neutralized as tools became available to crack the codes, but the pace for ransomware attacks was set.

Today, ransomware attacks have become rampant, costing victims millions of dollars. Government agencies, businesses, and individuals have all had their share of ransomware attacks, which has continued unabatedly.

How does ransomware spread? Ransomware does spread, yes! And the methods of attacks vary. Basically, phishing has been the widely used method of spreading ransomware. Below, we have considered the various phishing methods and other methods of attacks deployed in spreading ransomware.

Email Attachments

This is one of the phishing methods used by ransomware criminals to spread ransomware malware. The email attachments are accompanied by con messages pretending to be your business associate or client. If you’re a target, they go the extra mile to research your clients or business associates, hack into their emails or create a similar email identity. The attachments may come in different formats such as ZIP files, PDF, Word document, Excel spreadsheet, etc. Opening the attachment lets the ransomware into your computer.

Prevention Tips

  • Do not open email attachments from untrusted senders.
  • Check carefully to spot emails impersonating your business associate, client, or service providers. It is possible to register a domain name with a different extension similar to your business partner or anyone they are impersonating. Ensure you compare such emails before you take any action.
  • Call your business partner, client, or service provider to verify any email from them asking you to open suspicious attachments.

Infected Links

Although you may not identify an infected link by mare looking at the URL, the sender and accompanying text can help you suspect such links. This is another method of phishing used by ransomware criminals. The messages are often worded convincingly, to trick you into clicking the link. Infected links are spread through social media messages, emails, and other digital means of sending messages with links.

Prevention Tips

  • Be careful of persuasive messages sent via emails and social media private message box asking you to click a link. Do not quickly trust the identity as any of your friend’s may compromise, and they’d attack through the profile.
  • Hover around URLs to check what the link contains.
  • Use short URL checker tools to expand shortened URLs.
  • Enter links manually on your computer to avoid opening phishing links.

Remote Desktop Protocol

Ransomware can also spread via a network. As you may know, the remote desktop is a communication protocol that allows connection between two computers over a network connection, and this a popular attack vector. Dharma, SamSam, and GandCrab, etc., are typical examples of ransomware spread through a remote desktop protocol.

Prevention Tips

  • Use strong passwords and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts
  • Ensure you change your remote desktop control port.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for remote sessions
  • Use a VPN

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)

About 22 towns in Texas were attacked by ransomware in August 2019—demanding 2.5 million dollars as ransom. This attack, according to available statistics, was spread through MSP tools. MSPs are frequent targets of phishing attacks through exploiting the RMM software. An attack on MSP can affect the whole customer base.

Prevention Tips

  • Enable two-factor authentication on RMM software.
  • Ensure you use an MPS company with advanced security systems to combat phishing scams.

Cracked/Pirated Software

Are you happy downloading cracked software into your computer as you don’t have to pay for them? You may have to pay more money to ransomware criminals if you continue using cracked software. Most of the cracked software sites are operated by scammers in disguise. They may hide malicious codes on them, which means installing the software signals a welcome to the malware.

Aside from the software harboring malware, cracked software does not receive updates from the developers, and you do miss essential updates. Note that most updates are released to patch security vulnerabilities. With outdated software, you risk being easily attacked by ransomware.

Prevention Tips

  • Do not use cracked software.
  • Be wary of some free software.

Wrap Up

Ransomware can also spread through websites pop-ups, USB drives, network propagation, malvertising, etc. You can avoid ransomware by following the prevention tips highlighted above and also investing in security systems.

Most importantly, make sure to back up your data to help you recover them if the worse comes to worst!

Related Resources

Free Website Malware Scanner

Where Does Ransomware Come from?

What Is the Best Way to Resolve a Ransomware Threat?

Wondering where ransomware comes from is akin to asking the origin of computer malware. Virtually all computer programs are developed with codes based on several programming languages.

Where does ransomware come from? As you have read above, ransomware is a malicious computer program like other malware you may know. Ransomware developers are cybercriminals whose primary intention is to attack computer users, encrypt their data and request a ransom.

Ransomware began in 1989. The first attack was best known as the AIDS Trojan. This is because the attack targeted attendees of an AIDS seminar organized by the World Health Organization (WHO). The creator of the ransomware, who was also an AIDS researcher tricked the attendees into believing the diskettes he distributed contained information about AIDS. But the original content was malicious codes that ceased the attendees’ files. This attack was neutralized, and the ransom avoided, but it sets the pace for today’s rampant ransomware attacks. Of course, the methods of spreading ransomware follow the same pattern of tricking users into thinking the content contains useful information.

What About Ransomware Today?

Since the pace was set, ransomware attacks have continued to flourish, ripping businesses, individuals and government agencies millions of dollars.

The attacks gained more momentum in the mid-2000s and have been targeting healthcare providers, schools, and other data-driven organizations. For instance, the Baltimore City government was hit by a ransomware attack in 2019, which cost them $18 million to recover their systems. Not to mention that the attack lingered for one month and activities were stalled throughout the attack.

It was also reported that a popular oil and gas company in the United States suffered a harsh ransomware attack that ceased all their essential documents. It took them some time after paying the ransom to recover their data.

There are similar cases of ransomware attacks around the world, threatening not just the industries mentioned above, but everyone. Ransomware attacks have no defined target. Once the attackers notice you have important files that drive your day-to-day business operations, you’re automatically added to their watch list. There are cases where the criminals may leave the malware on your computer for several months to get the best information for possible attacks.

What does this imply? No one is immune to ransomware attacks, and the best thing is to prevent the attacks. How? Before we look into the preventive measures, let’s consider how the ransomware is spread across computers.

How Ransomware Spreads

Ransomware criminals deploy various methods in spreading the malware before eventually launching attacks. We’ll consider some basic ways below. Keep in mind that all methods are directly and indirectly linked to phishing. If you can detect phishing emails, ads, software, social media content, etc., you’re a step ahead in preventing ransomware attacks.

That said, here are the basic ransomware spreading methods:

Email Attachments

You probably know that there are a lot of email scams going on. If you don’t find them in your spam folders, you may have heard of people complaining of receiving several spam emails. Most of them contain attachments with malicious codes, asking you to open it for whatsoever. This is a phishing method intended to send malicious codes to your computer once you open the attachment. This method is widely used by ransomware criminals.

If you have a network of computers, the malware can spread to other computers from one computer it infected. You want to be careful with opening attachments from unknown senders. You’re more vulnerable to ransomware attacks if you have several employees, especially if they work from home. But you can prevent this by training your employees on basic cybersecurity rules.

Software

Cracked software is known to house malicious computer programs. Installing such software opens your computer to malware attacks. Also, pirated software does not receive updates from the developers, making it vulnerable to cyber-attacks. You should avoid downloading software from untrusted websites.

Other methods of spreading ransomware attacks include content from social media, websites pop up, suspicious sites, etc. However, the methods revolve around phishing, so you can detect an attack quickly if you’re conscious of phishing scams.

Preventing Ransomware Attacks

From the above, you already know ransomware can be prevented through avoiding phishing content and avoiding cracked software. But is that all you need to protect against ransomware attacks? Of course no! While you may be careful with malicious content, you do buy software from a compromised vendor, which could get your system infected. Yes, software vendors are not left; they are targets of ransomware attacks too.

Here are other ways to prevent ransomware attacks:

  • Install active antivirus/anti-malware software.
  • Keep all your applications updated.
  • Use advanced security systems.

Wrap Up

Antiviruses/anti-malware programs can help block ransomware malware from entering your computer. And in cases where the criminals deploy a more sophisticated method of spreading the malware like going fileless, advanced security systems can help you detect and block the malware.

More so, data backup can help protect your data when the odds are against you!

Related Resources

Free Website Malware Scanner

What is a Ransomware Cyber Attack?

What is a Ransomware Cyber Attack?

Did you know that small businesses in the United States lose up to 75 billion dollars annually to ransomware cyber-attacks? This is according to a survey by Datto. These attacks happen multiple times in a day.

Large companies are also targeted by ransomware cyber attackers. For instance, FedEx lost an estimated $300 million in the first quarter of 2017. The attack was on TNT Express, a subsidiary of FedEx in the Netherlands.

If ransomware is dangerous that it can target both small and big businesses, causing damages, then you should be alarmed.

What is a Ransomware Cyber Attack?

What is Ransomware Cyber Attack?

Ransomware is a kind of malware that denies users access to their computer systems or information unless they pay a certain amount of money. As kidnappers or rogue actors operate, ransomware criminals attack your computer through the ransomware malware and hold your computer and data to a ransom. This is what ransomware cyber-attacks entails. 

More so, if you refuse to pay the money, the criminals may permanently destroy your data or publish it for public view. However, most victims do pay the ransom as the encrypted data are essential.  After paying the ransom, you will be given a decryption key to regain access to your information.

Most ransomware attackers usually include the payment instructions as part of the message displayed on your computer screen—notifying you of the attack. With Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that makes it easy to make an anonymous payment, it is impossible to track the attackers.

How Ransomware Enters a Computer

Ransomware enters a computer as most malware does. The malware is spread through infected files. In fact, from a 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report from Verizon, the researchers found that 94% of malware attacks came through emails. Out of 10 malware attacks, 7 are variants of ransomware.

What happens is that emails are sent to prospective victims with an attached file. The attached file contains the ransomware payload.

When the victim opens the file, the malware is installed on the computer. It will seem harmless when installed until malware finds folders with essential data and eventually encrypts them and denies you access.

Other times, it can be from malicious websites. These websites might cajole a victim into installing software or downloading a file.

If your computer is secured enough, it can intercept the ransomware before it installs on your computer.

What You Should Know About Ransomware

Over the years, the rate of ransomware attacks has increased. In 2013, there were 3.8 million global ransomware attacks. The figure climbed to 638 million attacks in 2016. That’s almost a 20000% increase within a year.

Although the attacks reduced in subsequent years, it has become more dangerous. Most of the ransomware attacks that happened in 2016 didn’t quite hit their targets. The next year, 2017 saw massive attacks that crippled millions of PC users worldwide.

Victims of ransomware attacks include school districts, small businesses, city councils, and even hospitals. The list is endless.

According to a survey by Pwnie Express, an IoT Threat Intelligence company, about 50% of cybersecurity professionals do not believe they can respond to a ransomware attack.

The best way is to prevent an attack. You might not be able to recover all your files when you’re a victim of a ransomware attack. For instance, Lake City, Florida didn’t get their data after a ransomware attack. There are many other cases where business got hit by ransomware and lost huge sums

Preventing Ransomware

The best way to avoid losing your data is to prevent the ransomware attack. Here are various ways to avoid ransomware attacks.

Avoid Suspicious Files

If you’re not sure of any file, do not open it. Some ransomware attackers hack close friends or relative accounts, then use the accounts to send malicious content.

When you see suspicious files as an email attachment, you should reach the person sending the mail through another medium. This way, you’d confirm if they actually sent the file.

Install Only Trusted Software

Whether on your computer or mobile devices, only install applications you’re sure of their origins. Look up the developer of the app and be sure that they’re reputable before installing. Avoid cracked software as they can be a carrier of ransomware or other malicious content.

Update Your Software

Make sure your device and software are up to date. Ransomware attackers exploit outdated software to insert their ransomware payload.

Use Security Systems

Installing active anti-viruses/anti-malware can help detect and block malware. You should also get advanced endpoint security for tricky ransomware attacks that may bypass anti-viruses/anti-malware.

Related Resources

Free Website Malware Scanner

Ransomware Security Tips

Ransomware Security Tips

So you’re wondering if ransomware can be prevented, right? Of course, there are various ways to avoid ransomware attacks, and that’s what you’re going to learn on this page.

But first, let’s take a ride through ransomware processes, primarily how it attacks computer users. That should give you a solid stand on ransomware security tips.

So, what is ransomware?

Ransomware is a malicious computer program that encrypts users’ data and locks them out. You probably know that other malware programs corrupt computer files and damage them in some cases. But this is not the case with ransomware. Its primary intent is to cease your data, make them unreadable, and demand a ransom. The target is to get money from victims fraudulently. Recent attacks of ransomware have seen so many victims lost millions of dollars to recover their systems.

Ransomware Security Tips

For instance, an attack on the Baltimore City government cost them more than $18 million to recover their systems and files. This was besides the crippling of activities for over a month.

Similarly, in 2019, about 32 cases of ransomware were recorded in Texas, demanding over $2.5 million before victims could retrieve their data. All over the world, there’ve been several ransomware attacks here and there, disrupting business operations and costing the victims huge sums.

Are you wary by these records? Of course, ransomware isn’t a pleasant experience, and you need to be careful to avoid being a victim of ransomware attacks.

How Does Ransomware Enter a Computer?

Understanding how ransomware enters a computer can give you a sound footing in preventing the attacks. Phishing is a widely used method. Here’s a detailed look at how ransomware criminals deploy phishing in spreading the malware:

Emails

Perhaps the most successful type of phishing scam, scammers send messages with infected attachments and links to unsuspecting people. If you’re a target, they may impersonate someone you know—it could be your service provider, bank, healthcare provider, etc. To prevent being a victim, you want to be careful with clicking links or opening attachments from unknown identities. Check carefully to spot phishing emails impersonating someone you know.

Pirated Software

This is another popular method of spreading ransomware malware. Most pirated/cracked software are products of cybercriminals, and you may harbor malicious codes on your computer through such software. On the one hand, cracked software are vulnerable to cyber-attacks as they don’t receive updates from the original developers. You can prevent this by avoiding cracked software and go for the main ones.

Other methods of spreading ransomware malware are social media content, network, and flash drives. You need to screen flash drives and other storage devices before you receive files from them. Antiviruses/anti-malware programs can help you detect and block files with malicious codes.

Ransomware Security Tips

As you have read, avoiding attachments and links from unknown identities via emails and social media content can prevent ransomware attacks. More so, not downloading cracked software can help you prevent ransomware attacks. Other than that, here are the basic ransomware security tips:

  1. Keep All Your Applications Updated: Outdated computer programs are susceptible to malware attacks. Of course, most updates are released to patch security vulnerabilities. Ensure you update all your applications and check for updates regularly to see when new updates are available. This includes your operating system.
  2. Use Strong Passwords: Easy passwords are easily guessed, so you want to ensure you don’t use your name, date of birth, or phone number as passwords. Also, do not use the same passwords for multiple accounts.
  3. Log Out of Public Computers: After using a public computer for whatsoever, ensure you log out to prevent unauthorized access. This could expose you to cyber-attacks and possibly, ransomware.
  4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi: Using public Wi-Fi can expose your private information to cybercriminals. You want to avoid using it.
  5. Use Antiviruses/Anti-malware: Sometimes, vendors may compromise, which means you would be installing a computer program with malware unknowingly. In this case, security systems like anti-malware can halt the attacks.
  6. Advanced Endpoint Protection: You probably know about fileless malware and the likes. These are advanced threats that may trick antiviruses/anti-malware. Advanced Endpoint Protection uses security technology like AI, IoT, etc., to detect and block sophisticated malware.
  7. Data Backup: Data backup can help you recover your data in case security systems are bypassed. Though rare with advanced security systems, you should back up your data for added security.

Wrap Up

Everyone can become a target of ransomware; the best thing is to prevent attacks. If you own a business with several employees, especially if they work from home, ensure you train and retrain them on cybersecurity rules.

Related Resources

Free Website Malware Scanner

Latest Ransomware Information

How to Detect a Ransomware Attack

The first ransomware attack occurred in 1989—this attack targeted a group of health workers that attended a seminar organized by the world health organization. The developer of the ransomware, (known as AIDS Trojan then) deceived the attendees into believing the disk he distributed contained information related to AIDS. But it was a trick, and ransomware criminals have maintained a similar method in recent attacks.

After the attack, which was actually curtailed and the victims’ data released, ransomware wasn’t in the news until the mid-2000s. Since then, ransomware attacks have become a nightmare to healthcare providers, schools, government agencies, individuals and other businesses. Is ransomware thriving or decreasing? Perhaps that’s why you’re on this page to know the latest ransomware information.

You’re sure on the right page. Below, we’ll be taking a look at some latest ransomware information that might interest you.

Latest Ransomware Attack Statistics

  1. In 2019, during the start of the 2019-2020 academic school year, Inside Higher ED reported that two American colleges were hit by severe cyber-attacks. Monroe College of New York City experienced a harsh ransomware attack that locked down their files. No statement was made on whether they paid the ransom or not. Meanwhile, Regis University in Denver, Colorado, experienced a ransomware attack in late August, shutting down all internet and phone services.
  2. According to SC Magazine, the New Orleans city government encountered a ransomware attack in early 2020, costing them over $7 million. Luckily, the city had cybersecurity insurance; they received $3 million back. However, the report says the situation may infer underinsurance.
  3. Baltimore Sun reported that the Baltimore City government was hit by a ransomware attack that cost them over $18 million to recover their systems. Including crippling of activities for one month of the attack.
  4. According to CNET, New York City capital was hit in 2019 with a ransomware attack that took several vital services offline.
  5. A report from Coverware says the increase in ransomware payment is due to the Ryuk ransomware, which demanded $288,000 per incident, unlike other ransomware demands of around $10,000.
  6. CBS News reports that the city of Riviera Beach in Florida experienced a ransomware attack in June 2019, paying a ransom of $600,000 before recovering their files.
  7. According to Times Union, Albany County in New York experienced three cyberattacks within three weeks in late 2019, including an attack on the Albany County Airport Authority (ACAA) on Christmas day, resulting in undisclosed payment by the ACAA.
  8. A report by the BBC says a ransomware attack on a Danish company—Demant recorded the highest amount of ransom demanded by ransomware attackers. The attackers demanded about $85 million after restricting access to 22,000 computers in 40 countries. The company was forced to work with pen and paper until normalcy was restored.
  9. Statescoop says SamSam ransomware hit Atlanta, Georgia in March 2018. Rebuilding its computer network cost over $5 million, and nearly $3 million in hiring crisis managers and emergency consultants.
  10. In 2019, Health IT Security reported that multiple healthcare providers were hit by ransomware malware in early 2019, and ransoms were paid for data retrieval. One healthcare provider paid $75,000 to retrieve files.
  11. The FBI says payments of ransomware attacks are around $1 billion.
  12. In 2018, enterprise ransomware infections were up to 12%. This is according to a report by Symantic. Also, they noted that enterprises accounted for 81% of ransomware attacks in 2018.
  13. According to a survey report by IBM, over 55% of the respondents are willing to pay ransoms demanded to access digital family photos, and 39% without children stated the same. More so, a quarter of business executives are willing to pay $20,000 to $50,000 for their encrypted data, IBM noted.
  14. Cyberscoop says a Massachusetts school district experienced a ransomware attack in April 2018 and paid $10,000 in Bitcoin as ransom.

Is Ransomware Decreasing or Increasing?

You do guess it well. From the available information, ransomware is increasing. One may wonder why the perpetrators are not trailed in the face of harsh attacks on even government agencies and healthcare providers. But ransomware criminals have often requested payment via Bitcoin making it difficult to trace their identities. As reported by Coveware, around 98% of ransomware payments were made in Bitcoin, making it the primary payment method.

However, 96% of victims are given the decryption key after payment of ransom. This is, perhaps the only positive side of ransomware attacks. But still, this doesn’t help the situation as companies

suffer huge financial losses to ransomware attacks. What to do then? Preventing ransomware is the way to go!

You should get the best security systems to keep your data and computers protected against ransomware and other cyber-attacks. Advanced Endpoint Protect (AEP) can help identify and block sophisticated threats, including those that trick antiviruses/antimalware to penetrate your computers. Data backup is also necessary as it enables you to retrieve your data when ceased.

Is Ransomware a Virus or Malware?

What is Sodinokibi ransomware

If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you have trouble understanding what ransomware is—and are wondering whether it’s a virus or malware. Is ransomware a virus or malware? First off, the thought of looking at ransomware to be a virus is not technically correct. Ransomware and viruses are both malware, so there is no way you want to consider ransomware a virus. It’s a different type of malware like viruses.

Perhaps you’re yet to understand the above clarifications. We’ll have to consider each of these terms for a better understanding.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that demands ransom after encrypting the victim’s computer and denying them access. Unlike other types of malware, ransomware’s target is not to steal or damage users’ data, but to hold them to a ransom.

What is a Virus?

Virus, as it relates to computers, is a malicious code that corrupts or destroys computer’s data. Like ransomware, a virus is a type of malware that poses threats to computer users.

So, is ransomware a virus or malware? From the above, you can see the question lacks cohesiveness. Ransomware is not a virus but malware. Both ransomware and viruses are types of malware that attack computer users.

Now that you know what ransomware is, you sure want to know more about the malware methods of attack and how to avoid it. If that really sounds like you, let’s dig in!

How Does Ransomware Operate?

As you already know, ransomware is a type of malware. Like other malware, ransomware is created by some criminals to attack computers. However, ransomware creators’ intent is to steal money from victims through ransom. On finding its way to one’s computer, the ransomware malware encrypts your data and denies access.

The malware spreads through phishing and social engineering. Here’s how the attacks are executed:

Email Attachment

Ransomware depends on a host to enter one’s computer. And because no one will accept an infected file into his computer, the criminals adopt a deceitful approach. They would send emails impersonating someone you know or are currently having some business relationship. Other times, they’d pretend to be your healthcare provider or any service you are currently using. This trick is to have you open the attachment for the ransomware malware to penetrate your computer.

Cracked Software

Compromised software can also get malware into your computer. Most people like to purchase cracked software or use the free ones. Most of them may contain a malicious code that monitors your computer for a possible ransomware attack.

Pop-ups

Though not all websites displaying pop-ups on their web pages are scammers, some use that to send malware to computers. Be careful of any random web page you stumble on asking you to update any of your software. You may open the door for ransomware by clicking the pop up to update any of your applications.

How Long Has Ransomware Existed?

According to available statistics, ransomware started in 1989 when a Trojan was sent to attendees of an AIDS seminar. However, the attack wasn’t loud as the codes were neutralized without paying the ransom, and that laid the foundation of today’s ransomware attacks. Major ransomware attacks began in the mid-2000s and had been thriving—using Bitcoins as means of payment.

Perhaps ransomware victims would easily be trailed if payment weren’t demanded via bitcoins. Unfortunately, attackers have continued to demand payment via Bitcoin, and the system leaves no room for users to identity verification. That means the best way to handle ransomware is to avoid being a victim.

Of course, cybersecurity exists to help stop such malware attacks. So, you want to take cybersecurity seriously to safeguard your data and business from malware attacks.

Perhaps you already have an active antivirus/anti-malware on your computer, but that’s not enough. Ransomware criminals are developing difficult to crack codes, which may trick anti-malware and firewalls. As you may know, certain malware types are fileless and may penetrate your system undetected. You need advanced security systems to curb sophisticated malware.

A typical example is advanced endpoint protection. This security system uses advanced technologies to detect and stop tricky malware.

Wrap Up

By now, you already know ransomware is not a virus but malware. And both ransomware and viruses are malware that poses threats to businesses, government agencies, and individuals. Ensure you take the best steps to prevent malware attacks. And while you hope on your security systems to block malware, ensure you backup your data to help you recover them in the event of any disaster.

Related Resources

Free Website Malware Scanner

How Does Ransomware Work?

Malicious Software

Ever heard of a malware attack that encrypts data and locks the computer user/owner out? That is how ransomware works. It denies you access to your essential data and even your entire computer systems and demands a ransom.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects a computer by restricting the users from accessing their important files until a ransom is paid. Sometimes, the attackers might threaten to publish the victim’s data if they refuse to pay the ransom.

If you’re quick to detect ransomware malware on your computer, you can get rid of it before it unleashes its attack. However, most ransomware victims only realize the attack after the on-screen notification on their computers—informing them their data has been encrypted and needs to buy a decryption key. Ransomware attacks are well planned and implemented. The attackers ensure targeted data is correctly encrypted before sending the notification for ransom. Besides, payment is requested via Bitcoin or other digital currencies, making it difficult to trace the criminals’ identity.

How Ransomware Spreads

With phishing at the top of spreading methods, ransomware criminals have devised various tricky means of spreading the ransomware malware. Here is a quick look at some popular ways:

Malvertising

This method is becoming increasingly popular. It uses the same techniques and tools for displaying legitimate ads on the web to trick users into clicking malicious ads. They buy ads space and then link in a way that exploits viewers’ data. The ads are displayed in provocative images, free offers, or message notification.

When you click on the ads, your system is scanned for information about its operating system, software, browser details, etc. This eventually installs the malware on your computer. To prevent this, you want to be careful with the type of ads you click. If possible, you can install an ad blocker.

Email Attachments

This method is directly linked to phishing, and it has been around for a while. It is executed by distributing the ransomware via emails that convince the recipient to open the malicious attachment. Once the recipient opens the attachment, the ransomware can be deployed immediately, or it can take days, weeks, or months for the infection to start encrypting the recipient’s files. This depends on what the cybercriminal wants.

If you’re a target, the attackers may study your business emails and mimic them to trick your staff or clients on their target list. You can prevent this by verifying emails before opening any attachment.

Drive-by Downloads

A drive-by download occurs without your knowledge. The distributors of the ransomware do this by injecting malicious content on legitimate websites through some vulnerabilities. Other times, they can make use of their websites and install the malicious content on it.

The moment you visit the infected website, your device will be analyzed by the malicious content for specific vulnerabilities, and then the ransomware will be automatically executed in the background.

Drive-by downloads don’t require the user to download or click on contents that are on the website. Visiting the site is all that is needed for the ransomware to infect your system.

How to Prevent Ransomware

There are various ways to prevent ransomware attacks. Most of them serve as precautions to keep your computer safe while others safeguard your system when the ransomware malware tries to penetrate. Let’s take a look at some effective measures:

Antivirus/Anti-malware Programs: Installing effective antivirus/anti-malware programs on your commuter can help identify and block ransomware malware. Ensure you are using current versions to enjoy the full benefits.

Data Backup: Backing up your data locally and on the cloud will save you if you ever get attacked by ransomware. Your sensitive data will be unreachable. Once you have cleaned your affected system, you can install the backup data.

Keep all Applications Updated: Make sure your operating system, web browser, and applications are up to date. Most outdated software are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Besides, some core updates are meant to patch security vulnerabilities.

Ad Blocker: Based on your preferences, you may want to use an ad blocker to prevent malicious ads. You can also switch from automatic to click-to-play plugins on your web browser. This prevents Java and Flash from running automatically.

Use Endpoint Protection: Some ransomware attacks could trick antiviruses/anti-malware to penetrate your computer. To add extra layers to your protection, you want to opt for Advanced Endpoint Protection for detecting and locking of sophisticated malware like ransomware.

Only open email attachments that are from trusted senders.

Wrap Up

Ransomware attacks are on the increase, and no one is immune to the attacks. If it never happens to you, it is just a matter of time unless you have deployed the best safety measures. As highlighted above, ensure you have the best ransomware protection software on your computers, backup your data, and avoid opening suspicious email attachments.

Related Resources

Free Website Malware Scanner

How Does a Ransomware Attack Work?

How do you get ransomware?

As a type of malware, ransomware attacks work like every other malware—targeting users’ computer users’ data. However, other famous malware such as Trojans, worms, and viruses are known to corrupt data or damage them entirely. But this is not the case with ransomware. While some attacks may lead to data damages, the intent is to get money from its victims forcefully. Perhaps this gives you a clue on how ransomware works, but if you are still puzzled, read on to learn more about how ransomware attacks work.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a malicious computer program that encrypts users’ data and limits their access. Once the malware penetrates a computer, it looks for the essential files, encrypts, and makes them unreadable before displaying an on-screen message asking the victim to pay some money to purchase a unique decryption key. Most attacks will further leave a warning about destroying data if the victim fails to pay the ransom promptly. The payments are often requested in Bitcoins.

How Does Ransomware Attacks Work?

You already know the impact of ransomware. That’s what it does, and the attacks are launched through phishing and other methods of spreading malware. Here is how attackers plot ransomware attacks:

Develop the Codes

Ransomware malware is a malicious code developed by cybercriminals. So before the attacks are carried out, the attackers start by creating the codes, which will be eventually spread to their targets.

Look for a Host File

There’s no visible computer program known as ransomware. The attackers create the codes and look for a host to push the malware out. Of course, no one will willingly install a visible ransomware program, so the attackers embed the codes on email attachments such as docs files, Zip files, spreadsheets, PDF, etc. These attachments appear to house different information but contain the malware. Ransomware can also be hidden in software and URLs.

For attachments and URLs, they are sent along with deceitful emails, which may appear to come from someone you know–friends, business associates, clients, service providers, etc. This is a trick to have you open the attachment or click on the link. Of course, the malware may find shelter on your computer once you open the attachment on the link, unless you have an active anti-malware that can block advanced threats.

The software can also send you into ransomware attacks. Examples of such software are cracked ones. The author of the cracked software may hide malware inside to monitor and attack your computer after installing it. On the other hand, cracked software does not receive updates from the original developers, and this leaves it open for attacks.

Pop-ups websites can also pass ransomware to your computer. Some criminals create websites for scam purposes but add other content that may attract visitors. If you stumble on such websites, you may see a pop up asking you to update an application on your computer or scan your device to get rid of malware. You do instead invite a malware by following the pop-ups instructions.

All these methods are used in hosting ransomware before spreading to computer users.

Takes Over Victims Computer

At this time, the malware is already on a victim’s computer. So the creator can view the computer files and hovers around to find folders with essential data. The next action is a complete restriction of the user’s access after encrypting data and requesting a ransom. This is the time most victims realize that they are attacked by ransomware malware.

The payment information is displayed on the screen of the attacked computer and other instructions. For most victims, payment is imminent, as the codes are usually tricky to crack. Once payment is made, the attacker releases the decryption key to the victim. However, there are few cases where victims couldn’t get the decryption key after payment of ransom.

How Can You Identify Ransomware?

Unfortunately, the pre-ransomware period is usually undetectable, or rare to detect if you rely on traditional security systems. As you may know, traditional security systems such as antiviruses/anti-malware programs do not block most advanced malware, and ransomware attackers are developing more difficult codes.

You need advanced security systems to protect against sophisticated malware. Comodo’s Advanced Endpoint Protection (AEP) can offer you the best advanced endpoint protection capable of blocking tricky malware. You can learn more about AEP here.

Closing Thoughts

Ransomware attacks can cost you huge money, slow your business, and perhaps send you off business. Ensure you deploy the best security systems to protect your data. Also, make sure to back up your data.