Learn everything there is to know about ransomware attacks. We cover the definition, statistics, and ransomware protection.
Even though it ends with a ransom, ransomware attacks are a bit different from regular ransom attacks that leverage sensitive information. They include malware that attacks devices, and the ransom is mostly demanded in hackers’ preferred cryptocurrency.
What is a ransomware attack exactly, how common are ransomware attacks, how does ransomware find its way to your computer, and do you have ransomware protection? Let’s dive in and find out.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software. This malware can get into your computer, encrypt data, and withhold it until you pay the ransom. Data that is unlocked until a ransom is paid can be that of a single device or an entire network.
The victim of a ransomware attack, be it a company or an individual, has a certain time frame during which they have to pay the ransom or do what the note says. If they don’t oblige, they risk losing access to their data forever.
After the victim pays the ransom in the demanded cryptocurrency (that is used for illegal cyber activities because it’s more difficult to trace it), hackers unlock the access to their data.
Or do they?
Should You Pay the Ransom?
No. You should contact authorities in your area that can take over, such as the FBI.
Paying the ransom could imply you’re financing criminal activity.
So, why do most people pay the ransom?
When it comes to ransomware, there is a high chance you’ll lose your data. For companies, this means that they might have to rebuild everything they’ve worked for from scratch.
Most companies don’t want their clients to find out about the attack at all. They might risk their reputation if others find out about the hacking, and their customers might be reluctant to use their services again in the future.
Ransomware attacks also disrupt the workflow of an organization. As hackers withhold data, organizations might not be able to work or lose a lot of time waiting for access to the stolen information.
Also, their IT teams and cybersecurity experts have to spend their time mitigating and dealing with the aftermath of a ransomware attack. This might cause them to fall behind with the rest of their professional duties.
Those are some of the reasons why most companies pay the price of a ransom. However, if you do pay the ransom, this doesn’t guarantee that hackers will give you access to your system or that the attack won’t happen again.
Ransomware Attack Statistics
According to research, 10% of breaches include ransomware. Targets of ransomware attacks have been individuals, companies, and even critical infrastructure sectors.
The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attacks that happened last year saw one of the most widely reported attacks that targeted critical infrastructure. However, CISA suggests that there have been attacks on 14 out of 16 critical infrastructures.
CISA’s overall conclusion has been that there has been an increase in ransomware attacks worldwide.
Last year, the number of ransom attacks doubled. The FBI reported an astonishing 2,084 complaints about ransomware.
An increase in this type of cyberattack in recent years could be attributed to widespread access to hacking methods and new vulnerabilities that have been caused by remote work.
Information about how to perform certain attacks has been available on the internet. This means that even inexperienced cyber criminals can follow directions and perform dangerous attacks.
To adapt to remote work, companies had to adjust their systems to allow remote access. As they haven’t used the systems before, they were left with flaws in the system that caused many cyber breaches at the start of the pandemic.
Ransomware Attack Starts with Access to Your Device
Some ways that ransomware malware can find its way to your computer include:
- Email phishing — if you click the link in the body of an email from an unknown sender or download a virus with the attachment
- Adware — ads on the internet can contain malware and if you click it, you can download it onto your computer
- High-risk website — by visiting an unsafe website, you can download malware on your device that encrypts your data
Can You Protect Yourself from Ransomware Attacks?
Yes. Since it’s a kind of malware, ransomware protection tools mitigate this type of attack as with any malicious virus that finds its way to your computer. They scan, detect, and remove it before it causes further damage.
Some things you can do to protect your devices from ransomware attacks are:
- Updating your software — outdated software, applications, or systems can create vulnerabilities for your systems and devices.
- Having trustworthy anti-malware on your computer — antivirus software that can detect ransomware and other types of malware is important for your cybersecurity.
- Doing regular backups of your data — during malware attacks, the key leverage that hackers have over you is withholding the data.
Old versions of applications and software can create flaws in your system because attacks are always changing, and new updated versions of systems are ready for new hacking methods.
Backups of your data should be on an external hard drive so that you can access it even if you become a victim of a ransomware attack.
Prevent Ransomware Attacks Before They Happen
Most people think about ransomware when the attack has already happened. Their data is encrypted, and they’re thinking of paying the ransom to regain access to their information.
Paying the ransom also doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be the victim of this type of cybercrime ever again.
If it’s not patched up after the attack, the same hackers can exploit those same flaws that they’ve found in your system to demand ransom.
The time and money that companies spend following the attacks can be a deathly blow for many businesses — especially if they’re small businesses that didn’t expect that they’ll be the victim of such an attack.
More Ransomware Topics
- Android ransomware found extorting credit card details from users
- NetWalker ransomware gang member sentenced to 7 years in prison
- New Android ransomware uses pornographic posts to infect devices
- How To Prevent Growing Issue of Encryption Based Malware (Ransomware)
- 52 Critical Infrastructure Orgs Hit by Ragnar Locker Ransomware Gang – FBI