Ransomware – What is All the Hype About?

Ransomware - What is all the hype about?

Ransomware – What is All the Hype About?

By now more than ever you either know someone or have heard about someone being impacted by Ransomware. There has been a lot of press this year about companies falling prey to a ransomware attack. Why is it on the rise and why is technology not protecting us from this threat? It seems odd that we have so much advancement with technology, yet we seem to be more vulnerable than ever to such breaches. Ransomware is not new and has been around for many years and as more businesses embrace digital transformation, the likelihood of being targeted in a ransomware attack has grown considerably. This is because the methods cybercriminals employ to carry out attacks are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to identify and manage.  

What is a ransomware attack?

Ransomware is a type of malicious code designed to gain access to a network and encrypt files on a system. From there, a bad actor will hold the encrypted files hostage until a ransom is paid. Given the lucrative nature of these attacks, cybercriminals are constantly creating and testing new vectors and variants of ransomware. This has given rise to a new age of ransomware attacks that leverage advanced deployment techniques to avoid detection altogether. As ransomware kits become cheaper and easier to obtain by these bad actors, staying protected is a top concern for businesses looking to grow their digital capabilities. There are many types of Ransomware variants and vectors used to gain access and affect your systems. These malicious codes can typically be deployed through remote access channels, phishing emails and exploiting software vulnerabilities through security gaps from unpatched software.  

The common types of variants are 

  • Crypto ransomware or encryptors are one of the most well-known and damaging variants. This type encrypts the files and data within a system, making the content inaccessible without a decryption key. 
  • Lockers completely lock you out of your system, so your files and applications are inaccessible. A lock screen displays the ransom demand, possibly with a countdown clock to increase urgency and drive victims to act. 
  • Scareware is fake software that claims to have detected a virus or other issue on your computer and directs you to pay to resolve the problem. Some types of scareware lock the computer, while others simply flood the screen with pop-up alerts without actually damaging files. 
  • Doxware or leakware threatens to distribute sensitive personal or company information online, and many people panic and pay the ransom to prevent private data from falling into the wrong hands or entering the public domain. One variation is police-themed ransomware, which claims to be law enforcement and warns that illegal online activity has been detected, but jail time can be avoided by paying a fine. 
  • RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) refers to malware hosted anonymously by a “professional” hacker that handles all aspects of the attack, from distributing ransomware to collecting payments and restoring access, in return for a cut of the loot. 

How can my organization defend against ransomware attacks?

It is important to understand your vulnerabilities and improve your security posture to help mitigate any potential risk.  

With ransomware attacks growing in complexity, organizations must stay educated and up to date on the rising cost and frequency of an attack, as well as the best practices for protecting against these vectors.  

In addition to common security practices, using Antivirus software, enforcing MFA, running regular backups, patching your system and conducting regular security awareness trainings it will ultimately require a solution that provides complete visibility into your internal and third-party network environments. This requires an extra layer of protection with real-time vulnerability alerts in order to actively address ransomware vectors as they arise. Organizations can leverage insights into critical vulnerabilities within their enterprise ecosystems by continuously collecting and analyzing a broad range of highly relevant cybersecurity signals, allowing you to address ransomware threats in real-time.  

Ransomware attacks are not going away anytime soon so it is essential that organizations take steps to defend against them. By deploying the right tools and improving your security posture you can help stay ahead of ransomware threats as your business embraces digital innovation.  

Speak to your IT professional to learn more about your current risk and how to help close the gap and better protect your organization from these threats.