Ransomware attacks have increased in numbers and ferocity in the past few years. Lately, hackers and threat actors have gone one step further by ensuring that their targets must pay them the ransom. For this, they are exfiltrating data before encrypting it and threatening targets with leaks online. All kinds of organizations, including cyber security companies, have faced such fierce attacks. FireEye's example is still fresh in the memory. On top of this zero-day ransomware attacks are adding up to the trouble.
Following the WannaCry Ransomware attack a few years back, many business owners and key decisions makers have been looking to learn more about the latest Network Security threats in order to understand how to protect their commercial/client data better and remain fully compliant with data protection regulations.
In this article, we look to answer the question ‘What is Ransomware?’ by providing valuable insight into how Ransomware and Zero Day attacks work and how your business can help prevent a successful attack.
What makes it a critical threat to your business and how can you keep your sensitive data and files away from unauthorised access?
Regardless of any type of software you use, it is never perfect when it is released on the market. Every software program such as your web browser, operating system, office applications, and many others are guaranteed to have problems.
Why is this?
This is mainly due to the fact that software is programmed by humans with deadlines to meet and specific `time to market` goals. In most cases, the bugs are not dangerous unless they present a security vulnerability. A security hole can then allow hackers to launch a zero-day attack.
There are many different categories of Ransomware, all of which depend upon what the hacker has designed the Ransomware to do. One thing the many different types have in common is that each program is designed to lock you out of your files (encrypt them), your operating system, or your entire computer. Then the hacker will attempt to ask you to perform some type of action to regain access to your system and files.
All of us are a target
Hackers can design Ransomware to target the home computer user or launch Ransomware in a zero day exploit on a much larger scale such as an enterprise network, manufacturing facility, healthcare provider, or even a government agency. Basically, the malicious program holds your information for ransom which is where the term Ransomware originates.
Ransomware can prevent you from using your web browser, prevent you from logging on to your operating system, and encrypt personal files to prevent you from accessing them. Generally, the hacker demands ransom money from you so you can decrypt and retrieve your files. However, there is no guarantee that paying money will provide you with access to your computer and files.
Lock Screen Ransomware
If the Ransomware is designed to prevent access to your computer, when you boot your device you will see a screen saying you must perform a described action such as paying money to get access to your computer. This is known as lock screen Ransomware.
If you can access your PC but not your files, the Ransomware program has been designed to encrypt your files. This type of Ransomware is known as ‘Encryption Ransomware’.
Older variations of Ransomware which are still used, may actually accuse you of using your computer for illegal purposes. The hacker then threatens you with a fine or imprisonment as a scare tactic to extort money from you.