What is Ransomware? And Why Should You Care?
Ransomware is a kind of malicious software that, takes over your Computers and advances you with outrage, by creating a barricade from accessing your data. Later the attackers demand a ransom from the prey, ensuring to restore access to the data upon payment.
Users are given instructions on how to pay ransom to get the decryption key. The ransom can range from a few hundred dollars to millions, and the mode of payment is accepted only in Bitcoins.
Functioning Of Ransomware:
There are various vectors ransomware that can take control of your computer. One of the best and most commonly used attacks is phishing spam, where the attacker attachers the ransomware virus to the victim’s mail and is sent to him. Masking as an original and important trustworthy mail. Once the attachments are downloaded and opened, the attacker can take our the victim’s computer, particularly if they are built-in social engineering tools which give the administrative access to the attackers. There is still the worst impact of these attacks like NotPetya or by exploiting the loopholes to affect the virus without even the need for tracking the victim’s computers.
There are several things the attacker’s malware might do once it takes over the victim’s computer, the first and most important the malware does is that it encrypt all the data and files in the computer. The most important thing to be known at the end of the process is that the files cannot be decrypted without the mathematical key which is only known to the attacker. The attackers will also leave a message saying that the files in the system is accessible by the attacker and will only be decrypted if the victims agree to send an untraceable Bitcoin transaction payment to the attackers.
In the certain form of malware, the attackers might even claim to be a law enforcement agency by shutting down the victim’s computer due to the carriage of pornography or pirated software in it and demanding the payment of FINE. In these cases, the victim cannot move a legal step against the attacker because of his loopholes. There is also a variation called Leakware or Doxware, in which the attacker threatens the victim to display his sensitive information to the public until and unless a ransom is paid. But finding this kind of extracts is not a toy play for the hackers. The most common type of ransomware attack is encryption attack.
Targets Of Ransomware Attack
Attackers choose any organization or Companies under many criteria. Sometimes it is just the matter of the opportunities, for example, attackers targets universities because they tend to have very weak defense systems and smaller security systems and lots of sharing of files happen on the server-based system so it is easy to penetrate the defense system.
On the other hand, many organization is attracting targets because they are most likely to pay the ransom. For examples, government agencies like Income Tax and medical departments need urgent access to their files which contains all the sensitive and important data and amenable to pay the ransom. And these organizations are most likely to be sensitive to leakware attacks.
But don’t feel like you’re safe if you don’t fit these categories: as we noted, some ransomware spreads automatically and indiscriminately across the internet.
Prevention Of Ransomware
There are various levels of defenses that can be taken to prevent yourself from ransomware attacks. These steps are good security practices in general, so following these steps will help you to prevent yourself from falling as prey to ransomware attacks:
- Keep your system vulnerabilities free or with fewer vulnerabilities to exploit by updating your system up-to-date and by keeping your system patched.
- Never ever install software or give them administrative permissions unless and until you know what exactly the software does.
- Install antivirus software and keep it up-to-date, which helps in the detection of malicious programs or blocks malicious program download. It also prevents the unauthorized application from downloading from any unknown sources in first place.
Removal Of Ransomware
If your computers have been injected with a ransomware attack. And if u need to regain control of your computer then please do follow these steps:
The following step has all the details on how to remove Ransomware.
- Boot Windows to safe mode.
- Install antivirus and antimalware software.
- Perform a full system scan for malware and ransomware.
- Restore the computer to its earlier settings.
But here are a certain important thing that needs to keep in mind
While you are following the process, these steps can remove the malware from your computer and restore it back to your control, but these steps will not decrypt your files. Their conversion into the unreadability has already occurred, if the malware is at all complicated it will be mathematically or technically impossible for anyone to decrypt them without the access of the key code. In fact, if you have removed the malware, then you have still had still prevented a chance from restoring your files by paying the attacker the ransom he has demanded.
Facts And Figures On Ransomware
Ransomware is a huge business across the globe. The market of ransomware is expanded rapidly from decades and there is a lot of money in ransomware, which resulted in $5 billion dollars approx in losses this includes both ransom paid and time is taken to recover the files and data. At the beginning of 2018 ransomware named SamSam collected around a $1 million in ransom money.
Many companies are prone to ransomware attacks and to pay the ransom. The biggest ransomware attacks are targeted at hospitals or other medical organizations, which are easy targets. Attackers know the fact that the organizations will never risk their names by not paying the ransom as not only there name even they are even risking patients life, so they are most likely to pay the ransom. It is estimated that 45% of ransomware attacks hospitals, medical institutes and on record that 85% of malware infectious at health organizations are ransomware. And another attracting industry for the attack is “The Financial Sector” it is approximated that 90% of financial organizations were targeted in 2017.
The anti-malware software won’t protect you cent percent. But the developers constantly tweaks the ransomware so, its signatures are not caught by the typical antivirus programs. On a serious note, most of the victims had running up-to-date antivirus which means an end to end protection on the infected machines.
The one and only “Good news on ransomware” is, that it is not widespread. The number of attacks, popping the mid-10s, has gone into a great decline, though the beginning numbers were high enough. But at the beginning of 2017 the attacks were up to 60% but in the present days, it is reduced to 5% which is a great fall of attacks.
A Sudden Decrease Of Attacks:
What was the reason in the huge decline of the attack? It was the strict rules and regulation made by the cybersecurity against cybercriminals. And it was the economic decision based on the cybercriminal’s currency of preference “Bitcoin” Extracting the ransom form a victim is anyways a success or waste of time. Sometimes even if the company wants to pay the ransom but they are not familiar to the bitcoins currency and how it actually works.
According to Kaspersky antivirus, the decline in ransomware has raised in so-called crypto mining malware, this malware infects the victim computer and uses its computing power to create bitcoin without the knowledge of the owner. This is the most know route to uses someone else’s resource to get bitcoin that bypasses most of the barricades by scoring a ransom, and it has got more scope in 2017 because of the hike in the price of bitcoins.
As they explained there are two kinds of ransomware attacks: “Commodity” attacks that try to inject computers indiscriminately by enormous volume and includes so-called ransomware as a service these are the platforms where the criminals rent cybercriminals for attacks. And they target the most vulnerable market and organization.
With the price of bitcoins decreasing gradually from 2018, the cost-benefit analysis for attackers may drop down. Ultimately using of any ransomware or crypto mining is a game decision for the attackers.
The most famous ransomware attacks:
And the list gets going longer.
Should The Ransom Be Payed:
In certain situations, there is no way other than paying the ransom. But there are situations where you can even recover the files if the attacker is a script kid.
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