What is ransomware is a question asked frequently because the incidence of ransomware keeps coming up now and then and it seems the perpetrators are bent on worrying our peace with it. In this article, I would want to elaborate on what ransomware is (what is ransomware) and answer certain frequently asked questions about ransomware (faqs about ransomware).
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a form of software that is used to threaten to either permanently limit access to or publish the victim’s personal data unless a ransom is paid. More sophisticated ransomware employs a method termed cryptoviral extortion, whereas other simple ransomware may just lock the system without deleting any files. Files belonging to the victim are encrypted, rendering them unavailable, and a ransom demand is made in order to unlock them.
Recovery of the files without the decryption key is an insurmountable difficulty in a properly executed cryptoviral extortion operation, and it is impossible to track down the offenders because cryptocurrencies like Paysafecard, bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies are used to pay the ransoms.
Typically, a Trojan that looks like a legitimate file and is delivered as an email attachment fools the victim into downloading or opening it, which is how ransomware assaults are conducted. One well-known example, the WannaCry worm, on the other hand, automatically switched across systems without any human input.
Ransomware’s effect on businesses
A company that contracts ransomware may suffer productivity losses and data loss costing thousands of dollars. Organizations that do not pay the ransom quickly enough risk further consequences like brand harm and legal action from attackers with access to the victim’s data who will threaten to reveal data and expose the data breach.
Since ransomware reduces productivity, containment is the first approach. After containment, the company has the option of paying the ransom or restoring data from backups. Even while law enforcement gets engaged in investigations, finding the people who created the ransomware takes time, which only slows down recovery. The vulnerability is found through root-cause analysis, but any recovery delays reduce output and income for the company.
Examples of ransomware
To effectively answer the question what is ransomware, we have to know that organizations will obtain a strong understanding of the strategies, vulnerabilities, and traits common to most ransomware attacks by learning about the significant ransomware assaults listed below. The code, targets, and functionalities of ransomware continue to evolve, but much of the innovation in ransomware assaults is incremental.
- WannaCry: Using a potent Microsoft vulnerability, this ransomware spread to over 250,000 devices before a killswitch was tripped to stop it. The killswitch sample was located by Proofpoint, and the ransomware was broken down by them as well. Find out more about Proofpoint’s role in preventing WannaCry.
- REvil: A group of attackers with financial motives created REvil. Before data is encrypted, it is exfiltrated so that if the intended victims decide not to send the ransom, they can be blackmailed into paying. IT management software that was used to patch Windows and Mac infrastructure was compromised, which led to the attack. The Kaseya software that was used to introduce the REvil ransomware onto business systems was exploited by attackers.
- NotPetya: Regarded as one of the most harmful ransomware attacks, NotPetya borrowed strategies from its namesake, Petya, such as infecting and encrypting a Microsoft Windows-based system’s master boot record. NotPetya used the same WannaCry vulnerability to spread quickly and demanded payment in bitcoin to reverse the modifications. Since NotPetya cannot reverse the changes it makes to the master boot record and makes the target system unrecoverable, it has been categorized by some as a wiper.
- Ryuk: Ryuk is a ransomware program that is primarily disseminated manually and used in spear-phishing. Through reconnaissance, targets are carefully selected. Then, all files housed on the infected system are encrypted once emails to selected victims are despatched.
- CryptoLocker: One of the earliest of the current breed of ransomware, that encrypts a user’s hard drive and any attached network drives and demands payment in cryptocurrency (Bitcoin). An email containing an attachment that purported to be FedEx and UPS tracking notices was used to disseminate Cryptolocker. In 2014, a decryption tool was made available for this. But a few of publications claim that CryptoLocker extorted upwards of $27 million.
- Bad Rabbit: This ransomware, which is related to NotPetya and spreads via similar code and exploits, seems to target Russia and Ukraine, mostly affecting media companies in those countries. Unlike NotPetya, Bad Rabbit does allow for decryption if the ransom was paid. Most instances suggest that it spread using a bogus Flash player update that might harm users through a drive-by assault.
15 FAQs about Ransomware to help you know what is ransomware
1/ What is ransomware exactly?
Ransomware is a malware that locks the computer or encrypts data on it. The perpetrators blackmail their victims by making it clear that the screen or data will only be released again after a ransom is paid.
2/ What is the goal of ransomware?
The aim of ransomware is to steal your important data, such as encrypting data such as documents, pictures, and videos, but not interfering with basic computer functions. This creates panic as users can see their files but cannot access them.
3/ What happens in a ransomware attack?
During a ransomware attack, the malware gains access to your device. This can happen in a number of ways: For example, if you click on an email attachment disguised as legitimate but infected with malware, a so-called phishing attack, malware can spread to your device.
4/ How dangerous is ransomware?
Ransomware blocks parts of your system or even deny access to the entire system. Another possibility is that files are rendered unusable by encrypting them.
5/ How long does a ransomware attack last?
The results show that it takes an average of 23.1 days for ransomware and 55.2 days for malicious code attacks. Recovery from malware attacks (6.4 days on average) and botnets (2.5 days) is significantly faster.
6/ How is ransomware spread?
Ransomware is often distributed via emails that encourage the recipient to open a malicious attachment. The file can be in countless formats, such as a ZIP archive, PDF, Word document, or Excel spreadsheet. Once the attachment is opened, the ransomware can spread immediately.
7/ Is ransomware a trojan?
Ransomware is also known as blackmail Trojans, blackmail software, crypto trojans or encryption Trojans, are malicious programs that an intruder can use to prevent the computer owner from accessing data, using it, or the entire computer system.
8/ How does ransomware encrypt?
Ransomware is one of the most dangerous types of malware. After an infection, the files on the hard drive are encrypted by a so-called file coder or the compromised system is blocked. A pop-up message with a ransom demand is then displayed to the user.
9/ Is ransomware a virus?
No, ransomware is not a virus. While viruses and ransomware are both malware, they are different. Viruses infect data and replicate. Ransomware, on the other hand, encrypts files.
10/ What are the most common ways to get infected with ransomware?
Your computer can get infected with ransomware in a number of ways. Some of the most common methods nowadays is malicious spam or Malspam, as found in unsolicited emails, which is used to inject the malware.
11/ Why is ransomware so insidious?
Blackmail viruses (ransomware) are insidious because they encrypt the files on your PC without warning. You can only get the data back if you pay a ransom – and even then not always.
12/ What is the name of a famous ransomware?
WannaCry: WannaCry is a ransomware campaign that infects businesses worldwide. This ransomware hit over 125,000 companies in more than 150 countries. The strain infected Windows devices via the EternalBlue exploit.
13/ Can you recover after being hit by ransomware?
Simply restoring your systems from backups is the quickest approach to recover from ransomware. You need to have a recent version of your data and applications that are free of the ransomware you are currently infected for this method to operate. Make sure you get rid of the ransomware first before performing restore.
14/ How long does it take to recover after being attacked by ransomware?
Recovery times from ransomware can be highly different. Companies only experience brief outages, usually lasting a day or two. It may take months in other exceptional circumstances. Given their struggles with not knowing what they are doing, most businesses fall in the two to four week range.
15/ Can ransomware be decrypted?
Ransomware assaults are on the rise and they have the potential to be destructive. Fortunately, there are numerous ransomware decryptors on the internet. You might be able to keep the data on your machine by using a decryptor and antivirus software to remove the infection.
What takes place during an ordinary ransomware attack?
- Infection: In order to obtain access, ransomware only needs to install itself on one endpoint or network device, whether through a phishing email, physical media (such as a thumbdrive), or any other technique.
- Secure key exchange: In order to produce the cryptographic keys that will lock the machine, the ransomware sends a request to the attacker’s main command and control server after it has been installed.
- File encryption: After installing a lock, the software will start encrypting any files it can locate, both locally and on other computers on the network.
- Extortion: After successfully decrypting your files, the ransomware will explain what will happen next, including the specifics of the exchange, the ransom price, and the repercussions of refusing to pay.
- Unlocking or restoring: The victim now has two options: either attempt to delete the corrupted data and restore from a fresh backup, or pay the demanded ransom. Negotiating is always an option if you are made to pay; according to Unit 42, average payments were typically 42.87 percent less than what was initially demanded.
How to get rid of Ransomware
So, ransomware has hit you. You might be required to report the attack first depending on your industry and the law that governs the country in which you are. If not, damage management should be your initial strategy. How do you proceed from here?
- Isolate the Infection: To stop it from spreading, isolate the infected endpoint from the rest of your network and any shared storage, if any.
- Recognize the Infection: There are numerous varieties of malware, and each calls for a unique approach. To gain a better idea of what you’re dealing with, scan your computer and files, or use identification tools.
- Report: Whether or not you are legally compelled to, it is a good idea to inform the authorities about the attack. They can aid in coordinating and supporting counterattack measures.
- Consider your Options: There are several ways to handle the attack. Choose the strategy that works best for you.
- Restore and Refresh: To restore your computer or set up a new platform, use secure backups as well as programs and software sources.
- Create a plan to prevent recurrence: Consider how the infection happened and the steps you can take to make sure it won’t happen again.
Guidelines for Beating Ransomware
To stop a ransomware attack, security experts advise taking a number of precautions.
- Inform yourself, your team, and your family about the best ways to prevent malware from entering your systems. Inform everyone about the most recent email phishing scams and human engineering techniques designed to convert victims into complicity.
- Options for immutable backups, such Object Lock, give users a way to save genuinely air-gapped backups. The end-user-specified time frame does not apply to the fixed, unalterable, and non-deletable nature of the data. When important data is immutable, you may swiftly restore clean data from immutable backups, deploy it, and carry on with business as usual.
- Prevent known payloads from launching by using anti-virus and anti-malware software or other security procedures.
- Update your security regularly through reputable OS and application suppliers. To fix known vulnerabilities in operating systems, browsers, and web plugins, keep in mind to patch frequently and early.
- Regularly create thorough backups of all crucial files, and keep them isolated from open and local networks.
- Practice proper cyber hygiene by reading email attachments and URLs with caution.
- Prevent the ransomware from accessing offline data backups by keeping them air-gapped or unavailable from any possibly infected computers, such as unconnected external storage devices or the cloud.
- To prevent infection on endpoints, email servers, and network systems, think about adopting security software.
- As much as possible, limit the write permissions on file servers.
- Segment your networks to keep important machines apart and to stop malware from spreading in the event of an attack. Disable unused network shares.
- Disable administrative rights for those who don’t need them. Give users the fewest number of system privileges necessary to complete their tasks.
- Have a specialist evaluate the setting for potential security upgrades. A ransomware victim is frequently the target of a follow-up attack. The vulnerability can be used once more if it is not discovered.
Conclusion about what is ransomware
Ransomware poses a serious threat to both individual users and businesses in all of its forms and variations. Because of this, it is even more crucial to monitor the threat it poses and to be ready for anything. Therefore, it is crucial to educate yourself on ransomware, take extreme caution when using technology, and install the finest protection software. I hope your question “what is ransomware” has been fully answered.