Ransomware is a type of malicious software that locks and encrypts victims’ computers or devices. Then, demand a ransom for access to the victim’s data.
The victim will often have to pay the cybercriminal within a certain time limit or risk losing access forever. Cyberthieves often use malware attacks to gain access, so paying the ransom does not guarantee that access will be restored.
Ransomware locks your files hostage and prevents you from accessing your documents, financial information, or photos. These files are still available on your computer. However, the malware has encrypted the device to make it inaccessible.
Although the concept behind ransomware is simple, it can be difficult to fight back if you are the victim of ransomware. If the attackers refuse to give you the decryption keys, you might not be able to access your data or device.
You can avoid becoming a victim to ransomware by knowing the types of ransomware available and the dos/don’ts.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware attacks are performed by hacking into your computer or device and then locking and encryption the data on it. This is how it happens. This happens often when victims accidentally download malware via email attachments or links coming from unknown sources — which can be hackers.
Ransomware blocks you from accessing files on your computer. Ransomware is a malicious program that holds your files hostage. This can cause havoc in large organizations.
Although a ransom may be required, it is not a guarantee that your data will ever be restored. The attackers might not give you the key even if you pay. This makes ransomware difficult to understand.
Different types of ransomware
There are many ways to use ransomware. While some variants are more dangerous than others, they all share one thing: ransomware.
These are the seven most common ransomware types.
Ransomware that encrypts files and folders can cause serious damage.
The ransomware WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 is one of the most well-known examples. It affected thousands of computers worldwide that ran Windows OS, and spread to corporate networks around the globe.
To retrieve their data, victims were asked to pay ransom in Bitcoin.
Locker-ransomware infects your operating system and locks you out of all your files and applications.
Most ransomware that targets Android is Android-based.
Scareware is a fake program that looks like an antivirus or cleaning tool.
Scareware claims that they have discovered problems on your computer and will demand money to fix them.
Some scareware can lock your computer. Some others flood your screen with irritating alerts and pop up messages.
Often referred to by leakware and extortionware doxware threatens you with publishing your stolen information online if the ransom is not paid.
It’s not surprising that people pay ransom after their files are stolen because they store more sensitive files and personal photographs.
RaaS, also known as Ransomware as a Service, is a type malware that is hosted anonymously by hackers.
In exchange for a cut of the ransom, these cybercriminals manage everything: from distribution and collection of ransomware to managing decryptors (software that restores data access)
Ransomware for Mac
In 2016, the first ransomware was introduced to infiltrate Mac operating systems.
This malicious software, also known as KeRanger was infected Apple users through Transmission, an app that could encrypt victims’ files once it was launched.
Ransomware on mobile devices
Ransomware started infiltrating mobile devices more frequently in 2014.
What happens next? What happens?
How did ransomware start? Although initially ransomware targeted individuals, later ransomware attacks were targeted at larger groups such as businesses in order to pay higher payouts.
These are some dates that stand out on the ransomware timeline. They show when it began, how it evolved, and where it is today.
- The AIDS Trojan was also known as the PC Cyborg. It was released by Joseph Popp, an AIDS researcher. Popp distributed 20,000 floppy discs to other AIDS researchers in order to carry out his attack. The researchers didn’t know that these disks contained malware which would encrypt the C: directory files of their users after 90 reboots. They also required payment.
- GpCode in 2004. This threat implemented a weak form of RSA encryption on victims’ personal files until they paid the ransom.
- WinLock 2007 This ransomware didn’t encrypt files but locked its victims from their desktops. It then displayed pornographic images. To remove the images victims were required to pay a ransom using a paid SMS.
- Reveton, 2012. This ransomware claimed to be law enforcement and locked its victims’ desktops. It also displayed what appeared to have been a page from the FBI. The fake page claimed victims had committed crimes and asked them to pay a fine using a prepaid credit.
- CryptoLocker 2013 Ransomware techniques continued to improve, especially with the military-grade encryption that stored key on remote servers. These ransomware attacks infiltrated more than 250,000 systems, and they reaped $3,000,000 before being taken offline.
- WannaCry 2017 These attacks are an example of encrypting malware that was capable to spread anonymously among computers and disrupt businesses around the world.
- Sodinokibi, 2019. To infiltrate more victims, the cybercriminals used managed service providers (MSPs), such as dental offices.
- Darkside in 2021. So-called DarkSide ransomware attacks used a Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) model to target larger organizations like Colonial Pipeline. These attacks were linked to Russian hackers.
- Revil in 2021. Victims are expected to be given keys to decrypt the files in return. They are responsible for the cyberattack on JBS in 2021, the largest meatpacker in the world.
Ransomware is still a popular attack method and it continues to evolve with the discovery of new ransomware families.
Who are the ransomware victims?
Ransomware can spread easily across the internet, even without specific targets. Cybercriminals can choose their targets because of the nature and file-encrypting malware. Cybercriminals can target those who are more likely to pay higher ransoms, and this allows them to pursue these people.
These are the four target groups, and how they might be affected.
- Groups with smaller security teams are often considered to be Universities. This is because they have a higher level of file-sharing and security.
- Organizations who can and will quickly pay. Banks, hospitals, government agencies and other similar organizations are part of this group because they require immediate access to files and may be willing and able to pay quickly for them. Colonial Pipeline was the victim of a ransomware attack in 2021. The U.S.-based fuel pipeline operator had its network shut down and paid $4.4 million to hackers in Bitcoin. Some ransom money was eventually recovered.
- Companies that have sensitive data. Similar organizations could be targeted. Cybercriminals are banking on legal controversies that might result if the ransom data is leaked.
- Companies in Western markets. Cybercriminals seek the highest payouts. This means they target corporate entities. Due to their wealth and increased personal-computer usage, part of this means that cybercriminals are focusing on Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
How to protect yourself against ransomware?
There are several steps you can take that will help protect your computer from ransomware. Here are some tips.
- Back up your data. Cybercriminals can steal your data and take it hostage.
- Use reliable ransomware protection software.
- Stay updated. Keep your operating system, programs, and security software up to date. This will help you protect yourself against malware and the most recent security patches.
- Do not click on emails attachments or links sent from unknown sources Malware could be embedded in them.
- Use caution when browsing the internet. Pop-up ads and malicious websites are waiting for you.
- Use VPNs to protect your privacy when surfing the internet on public Wi-Fi networks.
- Don’t use USB sticks that aren’t from trusted sources. Hackers will not be able to access your USB sticks easily.
What to do if ransomware has taken your money?
Ransomware victims have many options for recovering their data. These are the three options available to ransomware victims:
- Cybercriminals demand that you pay the ransom. Cybercriminals are not trustworthy. You may not get your data back if they pay you. Cybercriminals are encouraged to keep engaging in this kind of crime by giving in to such demands.
- As explained below, you can remove malicious software. A decryption tool is one way to accomplish this.
- Reset your computer to factory settings to get rid of malware. You should have backups of your data in the cloud or externally.
Is ransomware possible to be removed?
It is possible to delete file encryption ransomware depending on which ransomware you are dealing with. These are the steps to take in order to do this.
- To stop the ransomware spreading, disconnect all internet connections.
- You can scan your computer for malicious files, and then delete them using your internet security software. This step might be more difficult if your screen is locked by ransomware.
- Then, you should be able use a decryption program to gain access to your data.
- You can restore your data if you have an external backup.
What are the rules and what are the consequences of ransomware?
Ransomware can be a lucrative scam for cybercriminals, and it is difficult to stop. Protecting your personal data is best done by prevention. These eight rules will help you prevent cybercriminals from targeting your personal data and protect you against ransomware attacks.
- Use security software. Trusted security software offers more than antivirus. Security software can detect and protect your identity and devices, including mobile phones.
- Keep your security software current There are always new ransomware variants, so make sure you have the most up-to-date internet protection software to protect your computer against cyberattacks.
- Update your operating system and any other software. Software updates often include patches for security flaws that have been discovered and could be exploited to attack ransomware.
- Do not automatically open email attachments. Ransomware is delivered via email. Do not open attachments or emails from unknown sources. Phishing spam can trick you into clicking on links that look legitimate in emails, but actually contain malicious code. Malware then blocks you from accessing your data and holds it hostage until you pay ransom.
- Be wary of email attachments that tell you to enable macros in order to view the content. Multiple files can be infected by macro malware once it is enabled. You should delete any email that you do not believe to be genuine or from a trusted source.
- Backup important data to an external drive. Cybercriminals can use encryption to gain control over victims and make them unaccessible. Cybercriminals can gain an advantage over victims who have backup copies. Backup files enable victims to recover their files after the infection is over. Backups should be kept offline and protected from hackers.
- Do use cloud services. Cloud services can be used to help prevent ransomware infections. Many cloud services store previous versions of files and allow you to “roll back” to the encrypted version.
- Do not pay the ransom. You may not be able to get your files back, even if you pay the ransom. Cybercriminals could demand you pay repeatedly, extorting more money but not releasing your files.
It’s important to take precautions to avoid being exposed to new ransomware variations. You can protect your personal data and computer data from being ransomware targets by understanding ransomware and adhering to these guidelines.
Questions frequently asked about ransomware
- What is ransomware? Ransomware is malware that holds your computer or device data hostage. Ransomware encrypted the files on your computer so that they are not accessible.
- How do ransomware attacks work? These files can be held hostage by them, preventing you from accessing them until you pay a ransom. They may give you a key to decrypt your files if you pay.
- What are the most popular ransomware types? Crypto malware, lockers and scareware, doxware as well as RaaS, Mac ransomware and ransomware for mobile devices are all common ransomware types.
- What happens if ransomware is installed?
It might make it easier to make a decision if you have backups of your data.
- Is ransomware possible to be removed?
You can either manually remove the malicious software or use security software. This includes using a decryption program.
- Do you have to pay the ransom?
It would be great if you could avoid paying the ransom. Paying a ransom encourages criminal activity in the future, but it doesn’t guarantee that you will regain access.
- Is ransomware possible through Wi-Fi?
Yes. Yes. Ransomware can be spread via Wi-Fi networks to infect computers and other devices.