Ransomware is becoming an easy source of making money for cybercriminals resulting in an increase in the number of ransomware attacks recently. Such attacks are easy to launch as it does not need you to be master when it comes to codes. Malicious codes can easily be downloaded via dark communities online which patronize such hackers. Hackers generally target organizations and firms that are ill-equipped or have loopholes in their network security. Hackers normally demand ransom in the form of cryptocurrency which makes it all the more difficult to trace them if you were to track the money transactions.
Small or medium-sized organizations are soft targets for such hackers due to a lack of defense against such potential attacks. This can be improved with organizations paying more attention to protecting their network and prioritizing their resources. There has been an instance where not just businesses but even government offices, banks, and hospitals have been victims of such ransomware attacks. It becomes a matter of saving one’s pride as no organization will like to gain media attention for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, such ransomware attacks result in customer’s loss of trust when it comes to the organization’s ability to secure their personal details. This loss of trust might result in a loss of revenue and profit for such organizations.
How Ransomware Works?
The most commonly used method used to launch a ransomware attack is phishing. Here the victims are sent an email making them believe its from some reliable or trustworthy source. Once these email contents are downloaded and accessed the attackers can take control of your computer.
Ransomware can also be delivered via attacks known as drive-by download attacks on compromised or malicious websites. While some other types of ransomware can be sent using social media messaging platforms, where it can be spread via chat messages or removable USB drives.
Some other advanced forms of ransomware like NotPetya can exploit security loopholes and infect computers without having to trick users.
As we already discussed there are a number of things cybercriminals can demand once they have control of your computer. Once your data is encrypted by the cyber criminals you can only be able to access if you are able to decrypt it or end up paying for the ransom money in the form of Bitcoin to the attacker. Once payment is transferred the attacker release the mathematical key known only by them, which will help the victim decrypted compromised data.
In recent years we also have witnessed incidents where the attackers have posted to be law enforcement agency person and shutting down on victim’s computer on the pretext that they are watching illegal porn or using a pirated software. Ransom is demanded and systems are locked until the payment is made. Yet the attacks are more common in their days where the attackers simply use different variations of ransomware like leakware or doxware. In such attacks, they simply threaten the victims to publicize sensitive data on the victim’s computer unless a ransom is paid.
How To Protect Your Company From Ransomware Attacks?
- Don’t Pay Ransom: Never pay the ransom as it will only encourage and support the cybercriminals in carrying out similar attacks in the future. Also, there is no guaranteed payment of ransom that will help you regain access to your files.
- Keep Updated Backup: It is always a best practice to have regular and latest backups with you. In the process of such attacks, the backup can be your savior as restoring the backup can prove to be the fastest way to regain access to your data.
- Train Employee: It is best to have a trained staff who knows about the best practices while working in an organization and being safe from cyber attacks. Training your staff on such work practices as not disclosing personal information while answering emails, unwanted phone calls, text, and instant messages. As cybercriminals can take advantage of this to launch an attack via malware or gather information required to launch such attacks.
- Secure the Perimeter: Securing your network is perhaps the primary concern of any organization. A strong firewall and updated security software can take care of this.
- Use Good Anti- Virus and Anti- Malware Software: Use of reputed anti-virus software is advisable as fake software available may lead you into further trouble. Perform regular scans automatically.
- Manage User Privileges: Maintain a policy to restrict user ability to install and run software applications on network devices. This will limit the exposure of your networks to malware.
- Scan your Mail Servers: It’s advisable to scan your mail server using content scanning and filtering as this might help detect threats, in the process blocking any attachments that might be malicious and pose a threat.
- Use Cloud Storage: With the use of cloud storage you can keep your organization’s data safe, they are similar to private servers. As they are powered with elaborate access control and encryption technology they can provide you with additional protection for your data. Cloud storage can not only protect you from ransomware attacks but with the kind of security features incorporated in their security, they can prove to protect you even against DDoS attacks.
- Update Security Patches: Regularly update the security and virus patches. Generally, exploit kits hosted on compromised websites are used to spread malware. With the security patches updated regularly the chances of such malware attacks are reduced.
- Secure Public Networks: While traveling ensures you are using a good VPN while accessing public WiFi like ExpressVPN. Inform your IT team beforehand if you are going to use a public network.