With digital threats on the rise, cybersecurity has to be strengthened to encounter such threats from attacking both corporate networks – small or big!! and even users’ personal networks. Hackers create new sophisticated forms of malicious software like ransomware to escape the security system provided by the organization or the user.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware which is created by malware authors to extract the user’s files from the infected system or to an extreme – the entire system, while the victims have no access to their files unless they pay back the demanded ransom.
The malware is designed to encrypt the file and locks up the users from accessing the system files and data. The malware authors contact the users to demand a ransom payment and assure to decrypt the file. The payment is most often done through bitcoins.
Ransomware is nothing new. The first ransomware attack dates back to 1989 and the computers were infected through a floppy disk.
Is ransomware a virus?
A virus is a common term that most of us refer to as malware. In reality, a virus is one type of malware and there are various other types of malware. The other types of malware are Trojan horses, computer worms, ransomware. The objective and method of attacking the victim’s network are different for each malware. While viruses are created to infect the system and damage the files and data in the system, Trojan horses gain access to the system through a secret backdoor and hence exploit confidential information. This way each type of malware is developed to work different and to serve different objective. Reasons are many as to why cybercriminals would develop malware to infect the system.
With ransomware, the intended malware author requires money and so they stand firm with their objective to steal the data and convince the victim user to pay a huge sum of ransom to get access to the stolen data.
Ransomware on PCs
Corporates or Individual users both can be targets of ransomware. 2017 has seen the most threatening ransomware attacks in the history that ripped down individual users, businesses – small to big, hospitals, government agencies, airports, and corporations.
PCs are still the most convenient target for the hackers to exploit the vulnerabilities through ransomware. The easiest target is Windows operating system.
In May 2017, Wanna cry ransomware shook the world to fear, attacking over 100 million users. Wanna cry exploited the vulnerability of Windows operating system called the EternalBlue. This is a bug that helps the hackers to run the malicious code from remote through a Windows file or through a Printer Sharing request.
There was a patch security fix released by the Microsoft to fix the EternalBlue Vulnerability, just a few months before the wanna cry attack. However, most of the corporations and individuals failed to update the patch fix. EternalBlue is a vulnerability in Windows XP, which Microsoft no longer supports —and that’s the reason why Windows XP was the most targeted and infected by WannaCry.
There are different types of ransomware. Though the purpose of ransomware is the same, the mode of a request for demanding the ransom varies and hence the types.
Types of Ransomware
- Popcorn Time ransomware
Crypto-malware – This kind of ransomware is the most common type and is known as Crypto or encryptor ransomware; as the name proposes, this is the type that encodes your files. However users can use the PC, yet the users do not have access to your documents. WannaCry is one notable kind of ransomware.
Locker – Locker ransomware keeps you out of your PC totally and the user does not have access to the system. The Petya ransomware, which initially developed in 2016 and returned in a further developed state in 2017, utilizes the locker system by encoding your hard drive’s master files and hence locks up the user’s PC.
Doxware – Doxware downloads a duplicate of the user’s confidential records to the hacker’s PC, and he or she at that point undermines to distribute the documents on the web if the user doesn’t pay the demanded payment. If someone threatens to post the user to post his or her individual photographs or files on an open website. The Ransom ransomware deployed the doxing technique.
Scareware – Scareware is an illegitimate software that convinces the users that they have discovered issues on their PC and requests cash to solve the issues. Scareware may overload your screen with pop-ups and notification messages, or it may lock up your PC until the point that you pay.
One reason why ransomware has turned out to be such a well-known sort of malware is that it’s promptly accessible online for malware authors to utilize. Comodo has discovered that roughly 33% of all “new” ransomware strains really begin from a current open-source strain. Additionally, programmers are constantly refreshing their code to refine their ransomware and enhance their encryption, so a specific strain of ransomware may re-appear different circumstances, as Petna has.
Popcorn Time ransomware– Here, the hacker exploits the target user to infect any other two different users. In the event that both of those users pay the fine, at that point, the first user who infected the other two will get his or her records back, without the need to pay a ransom.
How does my device get infected?
The frightening thing about ransomware is that it can assault your system with no activity on your part. An infection requires the user to download an infected document or click on a malicious attachment or link. A ransomware can contaminate a vulnerable PC all on its own.
Exploit Kits – Malicious assailants create exploits packs that contain genuine looking prewritten malicious code, intended to abuse issues like EternalBlue that we portrayed previously. This sort of ransomware can infect any network-associated PC that has an outdated software. One day, you turn on your PC, and all of your records are found inaccessible.
Social Engineering – Other types of ransomware exploit the use of techniques to contaminate user’s PC. Social building (or phishing) depicts the demonstration of deceiving individuals into downloading malware from a connection or web interface. These records, for the most part, come by means of an email mostly from a respectable source, and the connection or connection resembles an order form, receipt, charge, or critical notice. The file resembles a PDF or Excel/Doc record, however, it’s extremely an executable record. The client downloads the document clicks on it, and this way the system gets infects.
Malvertising – Malvertising is another contamination strategy, in which the assailant utilizes a promoting system to convey its malware. The fake promotion could be appropriated even to genuine sites. By any chance the client clicks on the promotion link, the ransomware is downloaded to their PC.
Drive-by downloads are malicious documents that are downloaded to the PC with no immediate activity from users. Some sites use outdated programs and applications to subtly download malware to your PC while you’re honestly surfing the web.
Ransomware gets on to the PC through any source or mode, once the program has been executed, it normally works this way: the ransomware starts to change records (or document structures) such that they can only read or utilized again by reestablishing them to their unique state. To protect communication between the malware and the command PC, encryption is implemented. The encryption holds the key that will either encode information or recover the decoding key expected to get back the records or document files to their initial state.
When all the records are made inaccessible, a payoff note will show up on the screen, disclosing a notification on how much cash the user has to pay to decode the documents, where/how to exchange the assets, and to what extent the user needs to do as such. By any chance the user misses the due date, the cost goes up. In case the user attempts to open any of the encodes documents, users will get an error message that the document is corrupted, invalid, or can’t be found.
Installing the next-gen antivirus software Like Comodo Antivirus Suite with advanced features like default deny protection, Host Intrusion Prevention (HIPS) techniques, Sandboxing method, Containment Technology would beef up the protection system and helps the cyber frauds stay away from such ransomware attacks. Updating patches on time as and when the software vendor releases the software patches would help users save their files and documents from the most threatening ransomware attacks.