Hackers and Cybercriminals are relentlessly trying to device new and safe means they can use to break into networks or systems, get hold of critical confidential information and use it to their advantage, which is to make money illegally. One of the ways that has worked for them is by launching a ransomware attack. This malicious attack will infect a computer system and issue a prompt asking you to pay a certain amount of money for your network or computer system resume operations. In most cases, it comes in the form of deceptive links attached to websites, instant messages, and email messages. Once you click on the link, your computer gets infected. The malware will then encrypt significant files and can also lock your computer system. Then you will receive specific instructions on how to go about paying the amount of money being requested, which ranges from $100-$1300.But must you pay the ransom being demanded? Can you prevent a ransomware attack? What is the origin of Ransomware, and how has it evolved? This article will demystify all you need to know about the ransomware attack. Let’s dive into it, shall we?
The Origin Of Ransomware
Honestly speaking, not everyone knows what ransomware is? Albeit, some of you are hearing the word ransomware attack for the very first time. Surprisingly, this type of malware has been around since the late 80s. The first instance of a ransomware attack case was reported in 1989. It was an attack on the healthcare sector, whereby the PC Cyborg Trojan virus embedded on a floppy disc was sent to the victims. The virus encrypted files and other important information before requesting a ransom of between $189-$380 from those affected by the malware. Those who would comply with the attacker’s demands were to have their PC Cyborg Corporation license renewed.
Over the years, the technology used in ransomware schemes has grown tremendously. In fact, the internet age has significantly contributed to an increase in ransomware attacks. Hackers can now use a more sophisticated form of malware that is hard to overcome. With this malicious attack working in their favor, the attackers can now confidently demand a ransom from those whose computers have been infected.
The new advanced cryptography has allowed hackers also to target corporate networks and extort money from big corporations. One of the most memorable dangerous attacks is law enforcement ransomware. It first occurred in 2012, where computer users were blackmailed into believing that they had committed an online activity infringement, which could culminate in them being arrested. The attackers would then lead victims to a duplicated law enforcement agency site such as FBI, where they were demanded to pay at least $100 via bitcoin or PaySafeCard to avoid going to jail.
As the years go by, hackers are becoming even smarter in conducting their operations. With the money gain motive leading them, they have been able to make ransomware attacks even more lethal. New witty strategies are being applied by cybercriminals to spread malicious threats and make some top-dollar returns efficiently. The recent attack, the Sodinokibi ransomware, is a perfect example of how hackers have become good at their game. The hackers used compromised managed service providers (MSP), to get hold of patients’ confidential records in various dental offices. As a result, those offices were blocked from accessing patients’ records until they paid the quoted amount for ransom.
The continued advancement in technology has prompted hackers to keep on developing new effective and efficient forms of ransomware. At the same time, malware that cannot sustain the test of times is being abandoned. Cybercriminals are putting their energies in creating new ransomware families with advanced functionality and features such as the ability to infect computer systems in different countries and demand ransom in their language. Hackers can now make a lot of money from vulnerable computer users across the world. As a result, such malicious attacks have posed a challenge to professionals and agencies burning the midnight oil to develop reliable anti-hacking software that can neutralize the most recent ransomware.
Examples Of Ransomware Attacks
As discussed earlier, new types of ransomware attacks are continually being organized and executed. However, even as this malicious threat makes way into the fold, it is not guaranteed that it will successfully undertake the hacker’s purpose. It is very evident that some types of ransomware are more prolific than others. Below are some of the most famous ransomware attacks:
- WannaCry: The malicious software was created by the NSA, but was later stolen by hackers who then spread it to various computers for their selfish gains.
- CryptoLocke: This attack was launched in 2013, infecting at least 500,000 machines.
- SimpleLocker: Also regarded as the first prevalent ransomware attack that infected mobile devices.
- NotPeya: It was used by Russia to carry out a cyberattack on Ukraine.
- Ryuk: The first of this malicious attack was reported in 2018. Hackers mostly use it to attack vulnerable organizations like healthcare centers.
- GrandCrab: It is not only one of the most dominant ransomware attacks, but it has also led victims to pay at least $2billion in ransom money up to date. This is according to its developers.
- Thanos: This is the most recent ransomware attack. It can bypass a lot of anti-ransomware software, which is very efficient to be used by hackers.
The aforementioned ransomware attacks continue to affect various businesses around the world negatively. Hackers have learnt that targeting large businesses and organizations can earn them a lot of money in terms of ransom paid. This notion explains why big enterprises, corporations, and well-established governments remain top on the hackers’ target list.
Types of Ransomware
Ransomware can take up different forms that the intended targets are likely to fall prey to. They include:
Scareware is regarded as the simplest form of ransomware. Besides, it is not as frightening as it appears. In this form, the ransomware is released in the form of intimidation. For instance, you will receive a prompt notifying you that your computer system has been infected. Therefore, you will need an antivirus to get rid of the malware. But for you to use the antivirus being recommended, you will have to pay a certain amount of money, which will go directly to hackers.
This scare tactic can be in the form of endless pop-up alerts, trying to persuade you to complete your online payment for your computer system to be fixed. Also, it might pose as an intimidation threat from a law enforcement agency, asking you to pay fine for an illegal online activity which, in the real sense, you have not committed. Last but not least, your computer might be genuinely infected by malware, which will leave you with no option but to pay the ransom. But even after paying, what the attackers are demanding is not a guarantee that your machine will be attended to, and the malware cleared. It is a gamble! This is why you are not supposed to pay the ransom being requested.
Regarded as the most dangerous ransomware, it will encrypt your files, after which you will receive a prompt demanding you to pay some amount of money before your confidential information can be decrypted. With this type of ransomware, you will have to pay heed to the attackers demanded, since it will be so hard for you to get a system restore or security software that you can use to counterattack the threat. Still, there is no guarantee that you will receive your file back once you pay the ransom.
What this type of ransomware does is that it locks freezes you out of your computer. Once you restart your computer, you will see a large window with an official law enforcement authority’s seal. Alongside the seal, there will be a pop-up message accusing you of committing an illegal online activity. Then you will be duped into paying a fine.
It is very important to be vigilant so that you do not fall prey to these types of ransomware. They are illegal avenues used by hackers and cybercriminals to steal money and confidential information from computer users. The masterminds of this malware have mastered their craft; in that, they are now targeting consumers and business and large corporations. Always be on the lookout!
How A Ransomware Attack Works?
Phishing is one of the most common systems used by attackers to infect a target’s computer with ransomware. You will receive an email with attachments that appear to be legit and resourceful. Once you open these attachments, you will be tricked into allowing administrative access, which in turn triggers the malware to manifest into your computer. Once your computer has been infected, the malware will then encrypt your data, then demand a payment from you if you want to assess your files again.
The attacker might threaten to publicize your confidential information just to make you pay the ransom. Since it will appear to you that there is no other way you can stop the hacker from letting out your information, you will pay the demanded amount of money.
Who Is the Target?
It goes with no say that anybody can be hacked. Regardless of your social and financial status, a ransomware attack can befall you. But, before attackers choose who to attack, they have to put into consideration some critical factors. Below are some of the guiding tips that cybercriminals use in order to choose the right target.
- Level of vulnerability: If you are a vulnerable internet user, you are at the risk of being hacked. Organizations or individuals who have sensitive data and are likely to pay the ransom are considered to be very susceptible t a ransomware attack. Such organizations include law firms, government agencies, medical facilities, amongst many more. Since they will need to have immediate access to critical data, after a ransomware attack, they are very likely to pay hush money to the attackers in order to repossess the data.
- Opportunity: Another factor that attackers consider is the possibility of an opportunity presenting itself. For instance, if an organization is using an unsecure Wi-Fi network, that is a perfect chance for releasing a ransomware attack. Hackers will look for any loopholes they can capitalize on in order to break into a computer system, get hold of sensitive data, and request a ransom.
If you hold sensitive data or have created avenues through which hackers can use, you are likely to encounter a ransomware attack. But this does not mean that those who do not meet the aforementioned requirements are safe. As we discussed earlier, each person or agency can fall into the hands of hackers.
How To Protect Yourself From A Ransomware Attack
Preventing a ransomware attack is the best way of protecting your sensitive and confidential data. By taking the necessary prevention measures, hackers cannot sniff around your online activities or think of breaking into your computer system to infect it with malware. So, if you want to prevent this malware attack, below are some important practices to use.
Stay Away From Fishy Websites
Desist from the tendency of accessing every website you come around. Some websites are breeding grounds for hackers, and once you visit them, the chances are high that you will be hacked. These websites come with either enticing or intimidation messages. For example, while surfing online, you will receive a pop-up message informing you that you have won a certain amount of money or you stand a chance of winning a mobile phone. So, once you click on that prompt, you will be redirected to a site that will request you to give certain personal information. In that process, hackers will use that information to break into your computer system, get hold of your data, and demand payment.
Avoid Using Unsecure Networks
Using any free Wi-Fi connection that you come across is very risky. Most of those networks are unsecure and act as channels through which cyber criminals conduct ransomware attacks. Once you are connected, the hacker gets into your mobile device or computer and gets the liberty to use either an encrypting malware or scareware to steal money from you. If you want to prevent this sort of ransomware attack then, keep off free unsecure Wi-Fi networks.
Turn On Your Firewalls
Always make sure that your computer firewalls are on. They will help in blocking ransomware from getting into your computer system and corrupting it. Also, ensure that you have strong firewalls that will prevent those unnecessary pop messages that carry malware from flooding your computer display.
Use A Reputable VPN
A Virtual Private Network allows you to carry out your online activities without being recognized. Your identity remains absolutely private, meaning that it is so hard for someone to trace your steps while using the internet. Once you are anonymous, it even becomes hard for a hacker to trace your network or computer system and hack into it. That is how you can prevent a ransomware attack by simply using a reliable VPN.
Install A Reliable Antivirus
An antivirus has the ability to combat malware and neutralize it so that it does not corrupt important files and sensitive information. However, not all types of antivirus services that have been made available are safe for use. Some are fake and, in fact, can infect your computer with malware. Therefore, it is very important that you carefully select a reputable anti-hacking software that guarantees secure endpoints, thorough scanning, and advanced patch management.
Using a strong antivirus alongside backing up your files is the best way of protecting yourself against a ransomware attack. Fortunately, we offer the best offer one of the best antivirus services that will give you 100% protection against ransomware. Contact us today, and we are ready to be of service to you.
There are different types of ransomware, and some can be removed while others cannot. For those which can be removed, there is a guiding procedure that will help you conduct the process. But it will be very helpful if you worked with a professional who will help you undertake this vital security process. This is where we come in handy. All you need to do is contact us, and we will help you remove the malware within the shortest time possible. We have a team of professionals that will assess your computer system, identify the ransomware, and immediately get rid of it.
We also have an antivirus service that will help neutralize the ransomware. Our antivirus is very secure and safe for use. To get started with it, you have to place your order and pay the required subscription fee. Then you will receive a file that you have to download and install on your computer. Once you have installed it, let it run on your computer. It will identify any possible malware and neutralize it, thus protecting your files and sensitive data from leaking to hackers.
Our commitment is to ensure that you do not pay a ransom once your network or computer system is subjected to a ransomware attack. We have a support team that you can reach out to with your issue, and you will receive the necessary help as soon as possible.