Ransomware attacks often use social engineering techniques and malware to get on your systems. Once infected, threats display a message that says all your files have been encrypted, and you need to pay money to get them back. Attackers typically request payment in untraceable cryptocurrency. Using continuous, protected backups reduce recovery time and eliminates the need for paying ransomware attackers.
What Happens During a Ransomware Attack?
While ransomware attacks are less frequent than they used to be, they can cause significant damage. A successful attack could prevent companies from conducting business or delivering services, leading to lost productivity and revenue. It’s critical to determine which systems are impacted and to disconnect them from the network, removing access to data and powering them down when necessary. Then, once the threat is eradicated, prioritize restoring devices based on productivity and revenue impact. Cybercriminals often use phishing emails to infect victims with ransomware or malware variants that encrypt files. If an organization’s systems have been compromised, an on-screen message will be displayed that the user’s system or data has been locked and that a ransom must be paid to restore them. Ransomware operators often target public institutions like healthcare, government agencies, or educational institutions. But what is ransomware based on? They know these organizations have huge databases of personal information and confidential records that they can extort. Plus, their computer systems typically have many vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious software and social engineering tactics. A successful attack could prevent organizations from conducting business or delivering services, leading them to lose revenue and damage their reputation. It’s critical to have a plan to stop ransomware assaults from spreading inside an environment. This plan should include using security tools such as Fortinet and deception-based detection technologies that plant hidden files on file storage systems to identify ransomware encryption behaviors and infected block users and endpoints at the earliest possible stage.
A ransomware attack typically starts with a phishing email, gains access to a device, and then encrypts files using simple asymmetric encryption algorithms. The user is then shown a notification that describes how to pay a ransom to free their files. Cryptocurrencies typically request payment to hide the attacker’s identity and location.
Once infected with ransomware, a device can spread throughout the network via lateral movement tactics and encrypt additional devices. It can also target specific files and folders to encrypt those particular assets, and it can even use detection evasion techniques to avoid antivirus software.
Encryption can make the files unreadable, and it’s almost impossible for the victim to decrypt them without the attacker’s key. Additionally, the encryption process may corrupt some files beyond repair, so they can’t be restored.
Ransomware attacks are common among small businesses because they’re cheap to execute and can impact critical business systems. Many threat actors also know that companies tend to pay ransom payments rather than report the data breach, meaning they can sell stolen information on the dark web or exploit it for other extortion purposes. As a result, the ransomware market continues to grow.
Once the malware has encrypted data, it creates an inaccessible file that requires the victim to pay a ransom to unlock it. Typically, attackers demand payment in Bitcoins because cybersecurity researchers or law enforcement agencies cannot trace this cryptocurrency. Ransomware can enter a network in many ways, including through email attachments, downloads via hacked websites or exploit kits that search for system and software vulnerabilities. The malware then attacks a device connected to the network, such as a computer, printer, smartphone, wearable or point-of-sale (POS) terminal. Cybercriminals previously focused on consumers for ransom payments, but today, ransomware attacks target enterprises. The ransomware is often designed to search for and encrypt company files stored on network-connected devices such as servers and shared drives. It can halt productivity and cause major disruptions to a business. Isolating infected devices and cutting them off from networks and the internet as soon as they are hacked is the greatest approach to lessen the effects of a ransomware assault. It also prevents the ransomware from spreading to other devices. It’s crucial to remember that paying a ransom does not ensure that the data will be unencrypted. It’s common for criminals to use encryption to corrupt files beyond repair. Even the criminals’ decryptor key may not unlock the data if that happens.
Cybercriminals typically display an on-screen alert telling the victim their systems and data are encrypted and they cannot access them until the ransom is paid. The amount of money demanded varies and may be in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Some attacks include threats to publicly expose a business or individual if the ransom is not paid. Infections can also spread to cloud-based file servers and other systems. Ransomware is a lucrative attack for cybercriminals because it results in extortion payments and causes system disruptions and losses to businesses and organizations. The prevalence of ransomware attacks has been rising, posing a danger to businesses everywhere. Most infections happen when employees click on phishing emails and download malware. Cyberattackers know that office workers are likelier to pay a ransom and keep the incident quiet than individuals. In addition, most work-from-home situations make it easy for hackers to exploit human factors and gain entry to internal networks. Keeping backups of all digital data on a different server outside your centralized network is the best way to defend your business against ransomware. However, attackers have evolved to detect and circumvent backups, so it’s vital to stay current on new threats and have a solid cybersecurity program that provides security awareness training to employees.