Kinds of Ransomware and How to Prevent Them

Kinds of Ransomware and How to Prevent Them

Ransomware is malicious software that utilizes encryption techniques to stop a victim’s data for ransom. The attack can fail all accesses to an organization’s crucial files, databases, or applications.

In return for access, the attacker demands a ransom. Ransomware spreads through networks and targets file servers and databases, causing severe harm and losses to organizations. The threat demands billions of dollars in payments to cyber criminals, resulting in significant damages and expenses.

Ransomware utilizes asymmetric encryption by employing cryptography that necessitates a pair of keys to encrypt to decrypt a file. The attacker generates exclusive public-private keys for the victim and keeps the private key safely to decrypt the files. Attackers demand a ransom payment to release the private key to the victim.

After encrypting the files, Ransomware demands a ransom from the user to decrypt them within 24 to 48 hours. If the victim does not have a data backup or if attackers encrypt the backups, victims must pay the ransom to regain access to the files.

Numerous variants of Ransomware exist. Ransomware and other malware are spread through email spam campaigns or targeted attacks. The recent ransomware campaigns have shown that these demands may not always be fulfilled. Without the private key, decryption of the ransomed files remains impossible.

Kinds of Ransomware

Various forms of Ransomware are currently developing. The most evident reason for their expansion is financial gain. A message demanding payment is a recurring aspect of these threats. However, every Ransomware is developed by specific techniques that execute different attacks. Here are the common techniques to understand the potential hazards to companies.

  • Crypto Ransomware

Crypto ransomware, also known as information kidnapping, is a powerful and highly profitable attack method favored among cyber attackers. During this attack, the attacker encrypts data and then demands a ransom to decrypt the information. Furthermore, the attacker can also aim to encrypt backups to prevent data restoration.

  • Exfiltration (Leakware)

Exfiltration, sometimes called doxware or leakware, involves the unauthorized extraction of sensitive data. This cyber-attack can harm an organization’s reputation and face significant penalties for violating privacy regulations. It is common for attackers to pair data theft with encryption, thus increasing the urgency to pay the ransom.

  • DDoS Ransomware

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) ransomware attacks differ from crypto-ransomware and exfiltration attacks as they primarily impact network services without compromising data. The intruder attacks the servers with excessive connection requests to hamper operations. It demands a huge ransom payment as the only solution to save businesses.

However, companies must be aware that the attacker may send the ransom note first, and failing to meet their demands may or may not lead to the attack being carried out. DDoS ransomware attacks require significant resources; hence, the perpetrator can encounter difficulties while attempting to sustain them for an extended duration. Also, while these attacks can adversely affect the network services, they do not directly threaten the original data.

  • Screen Lockers (Locker Ransomware)

A prevalent form of malicious software that restricts access to a computer or device is known as a screen locker. The screen locker displays ransom payment demand when the system gets infected. As screen-locking attacks do not encrypt data, recovering from them is easier. One possible prevention is to reboot the machine safely and use antivirus software to eliminate the malware.

  • Scareware

Scareware tactics involve social engineering to mislead users into thinking that their computer is infected with malware that requires immediate attention. Frequently displaying reputable security software logos directs users to buy software to address the problem. The software can eliminate the notification.

Ransomware as a Service

The Ransomware as a service (RaaS) model has simplified various attackers’ ability to engage in ransomware tactics, including those with minimal technical expertise, against targets. This model involves affiliates purchasing or renting Ransomware, contributing to the heightened prevalence of ransomware attacks.

The criminal group utilizing Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) to operate must initially create the necessary software and infrastructure for RaaS. They can recruit potential affiliates from online forums, Telegram channels, and personal contacts. Some operators invest up to US$1 million in the recruitment process. Using RaaS presents a mutually beneficial arrangement, providing substantial payouts for operators and affiliates.

This framework allows affiliates to earn payouts without having to develop their ransomware software, while operators can profit directly from the success of their affiliates. Revenue generated from the operation is organized through a subscription-based model, with other potential revenue streams including one-time payments, profit sharing, and affiliate marketing.

How to Defend Against Ransomware

  • Data Back up

Companies must maintain backup copies and storage systems on both an external hard drive and the cloud to reduce the risk of being unable to access vital data. This safeguards ransomware attacks and deletes infected files. It is important to know that backups do not eliminate the ransomware threat. However, it significantly reduces the potential impact.

  • Secure Backups

Companies must restrict access to systems and data to safeguard backup data from potential tampering. Ransomware targets backup data to encrypt or delete crucial information. Hence, it is imperative to employ backup systems that provide limited access.

  • Use security software and keep it Updated

It is essential to safeguard systems and devices using robust security software and regularly update them. Keep devices updated as frequent software updates help in addressing potential vulnerabilities.

  • Practice safe surfing

Exercise caution when clicking links and opening emails or texts from unidentified sources. Furthermore, only obtain applications from reputable sources as it is crucial to prevent the installation of harmful files, which may be facilitated by malware authors using social engineering tactics.

  • Only use secure networks

Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks- they are not secure since Cybercriminals can potentially monitor online activities. For assured protection, consider configuring a VPN and offer an anonymous faster internet connection.

Also Read: High-Risk Password Attacks and Strategies to Prevent

  • Stay informed

Stay updated with the latest ransomware threats to be alert and informed. In the unfortunate event of a ransomware infection and the absence of backed-up files, it is advisable to seek assistance from tech companies that have decryption tools for companies to recover their data.

  • Implement a security awareness program

Companies must offer employees consistent training on cybersecurity awareness to equip them with the essential skills to identify malicious activities, including phishing and social engineering attacks. It is also vital to exercise periodic simulations and assessments to validate the efficacy of the training program.

Summing Up

Ransomware is dangerous to businesses; hence the critical need to remain vigilant and build emergency plans. Educating employees on Ransomware, exercising caution in device usage, and installing top security software are some fundamental steps for companies toward safeguarding against potential ransomware attacks.

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