Ransomware has been one of the most significant threats throughout 2021 and will continue making headlines in 2022. According to a report published by Check Point, the frequency of ransomware nearly doubled (93 percent) in 2021 compared to 2020. Additionally, the money that these intruders are extorting is also rising.
You can find the stories of attacks on government agencies, organizations, large companies, supply chains, or maybe, even individuals that have experienced a ransomware attack on their device. It is a huge problem where intruders hold all your data and files until you pay them.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malware that blocks users from using their files or system. In exchange, hackers/intruders demand payment to provide you access again. A few people believe that it is “a virus that locks your computer,” but ransomware is typically malware and not a virus.
Ransomware was first discovered in the late 1980s, and at that time, the payment was supposed to be sent via snail mail. Today, attackers ask the organization or individual people to send payment via credit card or cryptocurrency. Some ransomware creators sell their services to hackers/attackers as a Ransomware-as-a-Service or RaaS.
How Does Ransomware Work?
Ransomware uses asymmetric encryption. They need to gain access to the target device, encrypt files, and demand ransom from the injured party. Many types of ransomware variations exist in the market. It is often spread through a targeted attack or distributed using email spam campaigns. Malware needs an attack vector to authorize its existence on an endpoint. Once it is successfully established, it will stay on the system until the assignment is completed.
After the exploitation is successful, the ransomware will drop and pull off a nasty binary on the infected network. The malware then searches valuable files and encrypts them. It also exploits the network vulnerabilities and system to spread to other devices and probably around the entire network or company.
Once the encryption of the file is completed, ransomware contacts the user to pay them within 24 to 48 hours. The files are otherwise lost forever. If the victim does not have a data backup or it is encrypted, they will have to pay to recover these personal files.
How To Defend Against Ransomware
You can use the following tips to avoid a ransomware attack and mitigate any damage:
- Backup Your Data: Having backup copies of critical files on the cloud or an external hard drive can help you avoid the threat of being locked out. It will let you allow you to wipe off a ransomware infection and reinstall your files from backup. It does not prevent ransomware but can help with mitigating the risk.
- Secure Your Backups: Your backup data should reside at a place that is not accessible for deletion or modification from the system. Ransomware looks for any backup data in the system and encrypts or deletes them so that files can not be
recovered.3. Use a VPN: A VPN will encrypt your traffic, restricting the intruder from hijacking your data and seeing what you do online. Though, it does not mitigate the risk completely. You will have to stay alert to safeguard yourself from threats like phishing emails. You can read VPN reviews here to know more about VPNs in detail.
Even though ransomware attacks are constantly increasing, the malware itself is not evolving. Intruders are using the same basic techniques that they have always used. It is the organizations and the individuals who fail to take appropriate preventative action. Companies must build a strategy to protect their sensitive data and oppose the increasing ransomware threats by taking preventive measures, detecting the threat, and responding vigorously.