Home Software & Security Ransomware and Digital Extortion 101

Ransomware and Digital Extortion 101

...a type of cyber-attack.

by Susubiribi
Ransomware and Digital Extortion

Ransomware, also known as digital extortion, is a type of cyber-attack. Thieves encrypt valuable digital assets or resources and demand money in exchange for their release. Ransomware can affect anyone, whether they are individual consumers, businesses, or other types of entities.

By this, unscrupulous individuals force people to pay money in order to recover access to their valuable goods or safeguard their reputations. The majority of attacks require human intervention, as the criminals must be able to get the harmful program to the target.

Most variants of this attack can automatically replicate and spread once they’ve been launched. Attacks are typically sent to a user via email messages and pop-up windows in the form of a malicious link or file. Ransomware attack technology can be purchased or subscribed to by cybercriminals.

Since the initial ransomware attack in the late 1980s, the attack tactic has grown in popularity as a danger to both businesses and individual consumers. One cybercriminal may take control of a family’s computer and threaten to delete their priceless photo memories.

Another may cripple a corporation by locking up their main revenue-generating application database, costing them hundreds of dollars in lost revenues every minute. Ransomware can affect anyone, whether they are individual consumers, businesses, or other types of entities. In this article, we would want you to learn more about ransomware, including what it is, how it works, how it affects the industry, and how you can protect yourself.

What is ransomware, and how are traditional methods used to digital extortion?

Ransomware, also known as digital extortion, is a type of cyber-attack in which thieves encrypt valuable digital assets or resources and demand money in exchange for their release.

While the term “ransomware” is commonly associated with malicious encrypting software, cyber criminals use a variety of ways to initiate ransomware-related attacks online. There are three attack methodologies that can be used to characterise these attacks.

  1. Encryption: The first and most typical method is to encrypt the victim’s data, rendering it inaccessible to them. The attacker has control, or takes control, over the encryption keys and hence the ability to divulge the data or discard the key, making it nearly difficult to decrypt and retrieve the data by the owner of the data.
  2. Account Hijacking: The second method simply prevents a victim from accessing a valuable resource. For example, stealing a social media account password in return for money is an example of this. When the victim tries to enter into an account, they may receive a message stating that the password has been changed. When they try to reset the password, they may discover that the attacker has also altered the account’s email address, making it impossible for the owner to reset the password. The attackers then send the user a different message with payment instructions in order to discover their new password.
  3. Blackmail: Blackmail is the third strategy. Cybercriminals may get access to networks in search of sensitive or private information, which they may threaten to make public if the ransom is not paid. An attacker may, for example, turn on the webcam on laptops and take images of the target in a previous technique. The offender would then accompany those photos with often false evidence of the consumers’ visits to inappropriate websites. The cybercriminal then demands money in order to keep this information from being shared with friends, family, and the wider public.

In the end, it is a method by which unscrupulous individuals, usually motivated by financial gain, force people to pay money in order to recover access to their valuable goods or safeguard their reputations.

What are some of the most prevalent ransomware attacks and how do they spread?

The criminal must be able to get the harmful program to the target in order for the attack to be successful. The majority of attacks then necessitate human intervention. The assaults are typically sent to a user via email messages and pop-up windows in the form of a malicious link or file. The malware is downloaded as soon as a person clicks, and the damage begins. Most ransomware variants can automatically replicate and spread once they’ve been launched.

There are numerous ransomware variations available nowadays. Crypto Locker, CryptoWall, WannaCry, Petya, NotPetya, TeslaCrypt, and numerous others are only a few of the most well-known names addressed in recent years. When a user unintentionally allows these, they begin encrypting data and any storage spaces connected to the infected device in order to propagate as far as possible across the network.

What is the impact of ransomware on the cyber security industry?

When it comes to ransomware in 2019 till date, there are a few tendencies to keep an eye on. The attacks have increased in popularity to the point where ransomware-as-a-service, or RaaS, is a thriving dark web economy. Ransomware attack technology or software can be purchased or subscribed to by cybercriminals, who can then deploy it against their intended victims. While there has been a decrease in the number of ransomware assaults in the last year, the most recent attacks are more focused and damaging.

When it comes to identifying targets and preparing attacks, cyber attackers follow the idea of “quality over quantity.”

Furthermore, the impact of these attacks often outweighs the actual financial loss that could be incurred by paying a ransom. In addition to lost productivity, time spent on investigation and reaction, and potential reputational damage if the incident is made public.

What should you do if your device is infected with ransomware?

The first line of defense against ransomware is prevention. Take steps to restrict your exposure to such attacks before focusing on how to respond. Maintaining a strong organizational security posture and following basic security best practices, such as frequently backing up data, are two methods to do this. When done consistently, employee training and awareness is also a proven approach to avert assaults. A user’s action to execute malicious code is usually required for an attack to succeed.

The more end users are aware of the dangers of clicking on links or attachments that can infect your network with ransomware, the better your odds of preventing the malware from successfully infecting your network. After that, concentrate on detection and response. There are a variety of network monitoring techniques and technology that may be used to detect suspicious events that could lead to an attack.

Conclusion

Now that we know what digital extortion is, and how it is used to digitally extort from businesses and individuals, it is now clear that the first line of defense against ransomware is prevention. Maintaining a strong organizational security posture and following security best practices are two methods to do this. Employee training and awareness is also a proven approach to avert assaults. Soon, I’ll post a simple tutorial to ransomware response!

Take care!

 

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