Ransomware

Ransomware is one of, if not, the most rampant and feared cyberattacks of this generation. What is scarier is that it can happen to anyone at any time, and sometimes through the simplest vulnerabilities and cracks in one’s cyber defense system.

Hackers may use anything as common like a phishing email for discreet, but destructive, malicious programs that are downloaded to a device or computer. Often you click a link or visit a website to infect a device or network. If the program is in, the user’s disk and main files are encrypted, and the owner is then forced to pay for the encryption key.

If you are a business, this is catastrophic, especially if you do not have reliable cloud storage that can keep a secure backup of your system. Some business owners do not think this is crucial and penny-pinch on touchless solutions.

In the rate of how hackers can infiltrate even the most robust of security, not having all measures available to you to defend your business against cyberattacks is a mistake. That mistake can cost you a lot of money, your reputation, and puts you at risk of lawsuits in cases of a data breach.

Why Ransomware is Successful

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In 1989, infected diskettes numbering to 20,000 were sent by a Harvard biologist to attendees the World Health Organization AIDS Conference. Carrying a payload presently known as “AIDS Trojan” or “PS Cyborg,” the disks encrypted the file names of the host computer. Victims were instructed to send $189 by post mail to a post box in Panama to reacquire access.

Since then, ransomware emerged as a formidable cybersecurity threat. Here are the reasons why ransomware is on the rise and is still thriving, despite advances in cybersecurity.

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Ransomware is easier, simpler, and more discreet.

Through ransomware, connecting to the network and accessing sensitive information became more discreet, simpler, and quicker. Compared to typical cyber threats, ransomware does not require data analysis or retrieval.

Ransomware attacks are low maintenance.

Compared to typical cyber threats, ransomware does not require data analysis or retrieval.

The ransomware attacks can be automated.

Because ransomware attacks can be automated, ransomware attacks are more straightforward. Hackers can also work without the aid of third parties.

Ransomware is very scalable.

Another factor that fueled the rise of ransomware is its scalability. The millions can send phishing emails with a single click. In the same way, web traffic can be quickly redirected to bad or malicious URLs.

Victimized users pay the ransom.

The typical response of victims is to pay the ransom, especially in the past, where backup solutions were not cloud-based. Some do pay up, especially if the value of data being compromised is way more significant than the ransom. However, this response enables ransomware attackers even more. Paying the ransom does not guarantee full retrieval of access, or if the attacker will stop attacking altogether.

Ransomware is rampant.

Recently, Trend Micro researchers tracked at least 50 new families of ransomware. Ransomware attacks are massively happening with the massive increase in online activities and transactions. Even the pandemic only triggered more ransomware attacks.

Even if education regarding phishing emails and ransomware attacks are abundant, some still get victimized. People are still opening spam and malicious emails and clicking suspicious links.

Ransomware attackers target high-profile targets.

Cybercriminals are getting smarter about the parties they target and are continually creating new domains and subdomains to circumvent blacklists and security filters. Ransomware attackers are targeting multi-million-dollar corporations, health care conglomerates, even government institutions. These high-profile targets have to lead to the further rise of ransomware.

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Bitcoin fuels ransomware expansion globally.

Bitcoin’s arrival led to the rise in ransomware attacks globally. Bitcoin, a largely non-traceable cryptocurrency, is now the payment of choice of ransomware attackers.  David Emm of Kaspersky Lab, says that Bitcoin certainly plays in the hands of cybercriminals to help create anonymous payment systems.

The days of cybercriminals relying on PayPal or Western Union are gone since both have strengthened anti-fraud initiatives. With Bitcoin, money can be instantly obtained. It also makes it more attractive for ransomware attackers since Bitcoin is not connected to a bank account.

In addition, Bitcoin mixing platforms can disperse payment through several crypto wallets, making it nearly difficult for law enforcement to trace.

What to do After a Ransomware Attack?

Identifying a reliable, business-level solution may be complicated. Latest security studies show that organized crime syndicates and even government agents have committed some of the most destructive and lucrative ransomware attacks.

If you are a victim of a ransomware attack, do not pay the ransom. Paying hackers enables them even further to do what they do. There is no assurance the data will be retrieved or that the attacker will quit attacking you. Hackers may receive ransom from you and demand more. Contact your cybersecurity expert right away and see if there is a way to retrieve your files and avoid paying the thieves that have attacked you with ransomware.

Further, do not let yourself get to this position. Arm yourself with the best security software that can give you anti-ransomware protection. Choose one that comes with firewall protection and a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

Keep your OS fully updated as well. One of the biggest factors for ransomware attacks is that people do not even upgrade their operating systems. Some businesses, including hospitals, do not make the updates because they cannot afford the downtime, which is no excuse. Even more, you need your systems updated, especially if you are dealing with the sensitive and massive database.

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Lastly, make sure you have cloud storage with secure privilege access management so that your files stay protected and backed up, not just in physical drives and servers, but also in the cloud. A reliable cloud backup service typically has two to three backups of your system and files, so in the event of ransomware, you can recover right away and restore operations as soon as possible.

Conclusion: Create a Culture of Cyber Defense

As with any phishing scheme or cyber threat, education is vital in preventing attacks of this nature. Make sure that all employees, from the highest-ranking to the least, are aware of phishing scams and other threats and trends to cybersecurity.

Also, equip your team with the knowledge on how to minimize such attacks and intrusions. It is essential to maintaining a secure environment for the business or company. As you regularly conduct employee training to prevent ransomware from infiltrating your systems, along with investing in effective cybersecurity software, you create a culture of cyber protection—your first line of cyber defense.

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Mayleen Meñez

Mayleen Meñez worked for seven years in TV and Radio production, and also as a Graphic Artist/Editor. Finding her true passion, she devoted 15 years in NGO and community development work, where she experienced being a coordinator and teacher, travelling both in the Philippines and countries in Asia. She homeschools her three kids and reinvents Filipino dishes in her spare time. Writing has always been a hobby and pursuit, and she recently added content writing with <a href=”https://www.softvire.co.nz/”>the leading software e-Commerce company in New Zealand</a> — Softvire New Zealand and Softvire Australia up her sleeve, while preparing for her next adventure in the nations.

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