On December 21, 2021
Ransomware is malware that infects computers and prevents them from being accessed until a ransom is paid. It can encrypt files, which means you will have no access to your data. It can also disable your computer so that it cannot be used. Ransomware has become more pervasive and destructive in recent years. It is especially dangerous when ransomware attacks target hospitals, emergency services call centers, and other power grids.
This article will give you an overview of how ransomware works and what you can do to avoid being affected by it.
How does ransomware work?
Ransomware is the kind of malware that can cause severe damage by holding computer data hostage until a ransom is paid. The goal of ransomware is to retrieve money from victims in exchange for access to encrypted data. Like other computer viruses, it usually infects a device by exploiting a security flaw in vulnerable software or tricking someone into installing it. The most common method of spreading ransomware is via phishing emails, but it can also spread by downloading files from unsafe web addresses or simply visiting infected websites.
Ransomware attacks wreak havoc on your systems and network in a matter of seconds. The good news is that they are entirely avoidable. Organizations that establish strong cybersecurity fundamentals will be far less vulnerable to attacks than their competitors. Ransomware has three stages: infiltrate the target’s network, encrypt the data, and demand a ransom payment.
Let’s cover the basics:
- Infection occurs when attackers deliver malware to the victim’s networks.
- Security key exchange – the malware sends a message to the attackers, telling them that the victim’s data is infected and that it needs an encryption key to lock their data.
- Encryption – as the name implies, the malware encrypts the data and attempts to spread to other computers.
- Extortion – once the data has been encrypted, the attackers send a note containing the ransom amount; the attackers threaten to obtain or even release the data.
- Unlocking and recovery – some victims gain access to their data after paying the ransom, while others, unfortunately, do not.
Preventing ransomware attacks
In the fight against ransomware, it is important to remember to use the proper cyber defense. There are a few things you can do to stop ransomware attacks:
There are several anti-ransomware tools available. Email gateway security software, data loss prevention software, endpoint security, and antivirus software are some of the options. Anti-ransomware software should be capable of bringing to light specific websites, recognizing risk ratings, and even blocking them. Furthermore, the software must be capable of blocking known malicious files and untrusted applications. You’re on the right track if you’ve installed the right anti-ransomware software that provides real-time protection.
Implementing an effective backup strategy
Make sure that your data is always backed up. You should back up all systems and data daily and store them offline and out of band. External hard drives are useful but remember to properly disconnect them from the computer after you’ve completed the backup.
Another option for creating backups is to use backup software. However, be aware that some security tools that you believe will protect you from ransomware attacks may be viruses that infect your computer, network, and files. To avoid this, you should proceed cautiously when selecting backup software.
Although this may appear to be a relatively insignificant step in preventing ransomware attacks, keep in mind that a person who knows what to look for will be more effective in combating cyber-attacks. Ransomware attacks can be avoided if people recognize malicious emails. User education is critical for detecting and reporting suspicious cyber activity. Implement security protocols and procedures to assist users in determining whether an attachment, link, or email is trustworthy.
What to do when you’ve been hit with ransomware?
Even if you have used all possible ransomware prevention tools, it is still possible to happen. It only takes one inexperienced user for everything to be in vain. If you have already been a victim of a ransomware attack, follow these steps:
- Isolate and disconnect infected computers from the rest of the network
- Figure out which of the two general types of ransomware you are dealing with, locker or crypto-ransomware. A locker ransomware virus locks the entire screen, while crypto-ransomware encrypts individual files.
- The next step is to remove the malware to prevent the further spread of damages.
- Use the backups you have performed before the attack to restore the lost data. It can take a while, and changes made after the last backup might be lost. Sometimes, it may be possible to restore data from built-in tools in systems.
Depending on the damage caused, it may be necessary to involve the authorities and report the attack to the officials.
Unfortunately, you may have to pay the ransom and hope for the best. It is still not guaranteed that you will get your data back. Taking measures to prevent such attacks and recovering data should be more important than paying the attackers.
When ransomware strikes, focus on acting promptly to regain control over your computer. Attempted cyber-attacks are inevitable, and no organization or individual wants to be forced to choose between paying a ransom and losing important data. We hope this article will teach you a thing or two by pointing out the most important things about ransomware attacks, and that it will be of educational purpose to you.