The Real Risks of Ransomware: Why It Should Be Taken Seriously
Malware that demands a ransom payment from users in order to recover access to their system or personal data is known as ransomware. Ransomware restricts users from accessing their system or personal files and then demands a ransom payment. Even though there are some individuals who may believe that “a virus locked my computer,” ransomware is widely considered to be a separate sort of malware from viruses.
This can be incredibly detrimental to not only your professional life if it happens to your business, but it can also be detrimental on a larger scale as it can affect things like utility cyber security, public health, and small businesses depending on the source of the ransomware, as well as the target. How did Ransomware become so vicious? What can you do to protect yourself from the threats of this online danger?
In the late 1980s, one of the early forms of ransomware was invented, and it required money to be given in the form of snail mail. In today’s world, writers of ransomware demand that payments be made via cryptocurrencies or credit cards, and cybercriminals go after a wide variety of victims, including people, corporations, and organizations. Ransomware-as-a-Service, sometimes abbreviated as RaaS, is a practice in which the creators of ransomware provide their product to other cybercriminals for a fee.
Kinds of Ransomware to Keep an Eye Out For
The less prevalent forms of ransomware might be more difficult to detect, but they are also more difficult to prevent and remove from your computer. These may be further broken down into two categories: ransomware that does not encrypt your data and ransomware that locks your screen.
The following are some of the subtypes that may be subdivided further into these two types:
Ransomware that steals or exfiltrates sensitive data and then threatens to disclose it is referred to as Leakware or Doxware. In early iterations of leakware or doxware, the data that was stolen was often not encrypted. However, in today’s variations, this is frequently not the case.
All ransomware that affects mobile devices is included in the category of mobile ransomware. Mobile ransomware is often non-encrypting ransomware. This is due to the fact that automatic cloud data backups, which are normal on many mobile devices, make it simple to reverse encryption efforts. Mobile ransomware may be delivered by malicious applications or drive-by downloads.
Wipers and destructive ransomware encrypt data and then threaten to delete it if the demanded payment is not made. However, in certain instances, the ransomware will delete the files regardless of whether the demanded payment was made. It is often believed that nation-state actors or activists, as opposed to regular cybercriminals, are responsible for the deployment of this later sort of wiper.
Scareware is exactly what it sounds like ransomware that seeks to terrify victims into paying a ransom by threatening them with dire consequences if they do not pay. Scareware may masquerade as a message from a law enforcement agency, accusing the victim of committing a crime and demanding a fee; it may fake a true virus infection notice, pushing the victim to buy antivirus or antimalware software; or it may pose as an advertisement for a product that the victim is encouraged to purchase. Scareware is sometimes ransomware, which encrypts the data or locks the device; other times, it is the ransomware vector, which does not encrypt anything but forces the victim to download ransomware.
Initial victims of ransomware were individual systems, sometimes known as normal individuals. This was true both the first time ransomware was used and the second time it was used. On the other hand, thieves didn’t fully appreciate its potential until they started spreading ransomware among enterprises. Because ransomware was so effective at thwarting the productivity of companies and causing them to lose both data and income, its creators shifted the focus of the majority of their assaults to target enterprises. Fast forward to the global pandemic in the year 2020, and the threat still exists: Ransomware gangs attacked hospitals and medical facilities and developed new tactics such as “double extortion,” in which attackers are able to extort more money by threatening to leak sensitive data than by decrypting computers they encrypted.
Assaults against people using ransomware have been a concern for some years, but in 2021, ransomware assaults against corporations, hospitals and health care systems, schools and school districts, local governments, and other institutions have been making headlines. Attackers using ransomware have shown that they are both capable and willing to disrupt huge corporations that supply essential services and products such as petroleum, food, and transportation. Some examples of these firms include Colonial Pipeline, the large meatpacker JBS, and Steamship Authority, the largest ferry operator in Massachusetts.
Should You Give in to the Demands?
In the event of a ransomware attack, the FBI does not recommend or endorse paying the demanded ransom. They contend that paying a ransom not only validates the ransomware business model but also has the potential to line the coffers of terrorist groups, money launderers, and authoritarian nations. In addition, even though very few companies would openly acknowledge paying ransoms, those who hold the information hostage will make it public on the dark web, where it will become common knowledge for other opponents who are seeking a new victim.
After Paying the Ransom
Even after paying the ransom, there is no assurance that the data will be retrieved in a timely manner or at all. It is possible that there are several decryption keys, that there is a flawed decryption tool, that the decryptor is incompatible with the operating system that the victim is using, that there is double decryption, and that the decryption key will only operate on one of the layers, and that part of the data has been damaged. A percentage of ransomware victims that is much lower than 50% are able to effectively recover their systems.
A victim of ransomware may be instructed to click on a link in order to pay the demanded fee; however, the link itself may be dangerous and might result in the infection of more computers with malware. Some varieties of ransomware show menacing warnings, such as:
“Your computer was used to visit websites that contained illegal content.” In order to have access to your computer again, you will need to pay a fee of $100.”
“The deadline for submitting the money is in only 96 hours. If you do not provide the requested amount of money within the allotted amount of time, all of your data will be permanently encrypted, and no one will be able to decrypt them.”
Ransomware is a serious matter, and it is no laughing matter. It can become a serious security issue if the threat is severe enough. Many things, when it comes to cyber security, are treated very seriously by not only small business owners, but by other world leaders as well. When it comes to the latest news about how something like this can impact not only a community on the small scale, but the environment and economy as well, check out Smart Grid Observer for the latest updates and information!