Ransomware is a devastating form of malware that once it has been activated, inflicts havoc on a victim’s computer. All files on the device will become encrypted until a ransom is paid to release access. If the payment isn’t made by the deadline, the fee will increase or the hacker will permanently delete all the files and data that were stored on the device. Typically, ransomware fines can range from a few hundred to five hundred dollars per device. The keyword here is per device as often the infection can quickly spread throughout a network and attack multiple computers, demanding payment for every single one via Bitcoin or another untraceable virtual currency.
While many business owners are concerned about falling victim to a ransomware attack, many may not fully understand how ransomware attacks happen. Below, we will explain the most common methods.
One of the most common ways that ransomware infections are spread is via a scam email. These usually appear to come from a government agency, employer, financial institution or well-known organization. The email is created to trick the user into taking some time of action before they have even thought about it, such as clicking on a link or downloading an attachment. While the files are designed to appear harmless, they usually are Trojans and when opened, trigger the ransomware to download and infect the device. Because of the sheer volume of ransomware attacks that are successful from email attempts, it is critical to ensure that all of your staff members are properly trained to never download content or click on the links from unknown or suspicious sources.
There are a number of attacks that quickly spread without user intervention. These types of attacks are designed to prey on application or system vulnerabilities that are missing security patches or updates. When the vulnerability has been uncovered, the ransomware will activate and spread to other exposed devices on the network. For this reason, it is extremely important to discontinue outdated programs and update software regularly.
Another common propagation method is P2P networks. These are sites that frequently offer free downloads of licensed software or tips to help users avoid purchasing a license. The ‘too good to be true’ rule here often applies as these downloads can often be used to deliver ransomware to infect devices. One of the reasons that P2P networks are incredibly effective at launching ransomware attacks is that they often ask the user to temporarily disable their anti-virus protection in order for the download to complete – which leaves the user’s computer completely exposed.
Are You At Risk?
Data and information are essential assets to every business and if your database becomes exposed or important files get encrypted, the effects can be devastating. So much that many organizations have been brought to a grinding halt and some have not been able to ever financially recover. Because of ransomware severity, often the attacks are targeted at organizations that hackers know would probably not be fully protected and have a high likelihood of being able to quickly spread and infect multiple devices. Hackers realize that the larger the disruption they cause to a business, the higher the change they will receive their ransom payment.
In addition to suffering from financial loss, when recovering from a ransomware attack, the damage to your brand can be just as destructive. If your customer’s information has been compromised, or they have suffered a bad user experience, the credibility of your business can suffer.
By understanding just how easily a ransomware attack can occur, you can take the proper methods to make sure your organization is protected. As it can be difficult to have the proper resources or staff to understand the latest in cybersecurity threats and technology, working with a Managed Service Provider ensures that you have a team of cyber security experts supporting your business and monitoring your systems.
About the Author
Zakary Koch has worked in the IT support field since 2004 and is fascinated by emerging technology trends. Especially keen on cyber-security, he enjoying sharing with others how to keep their information secure in this ever changing online world through informative and easy to understand blogs and advice columns.