As the world had gone digital over the past couple of decades, there are more and more opportunities for cyberattacks to spread its wings.
Among all the cyberattacks, ransomware is the one most feared by businesses as well as government entities. A ransomware attack not only affects an organization financially but also besmirches its good name in the market.
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Ransomware is a type of malware used by hackers to encrypt the data in a computer system. As the data of the user is encrypted, he or she no longer has access to the data. The hackers then ask for a ransom in exchange for removing this malicious computer program from the system.
If the user refuses to pay the ransom, the hackers threaten to delete the data or expose the confidential data to others.
From startups, SMBs, to businesses, every scale, and type of business is a target for ransomware attacks. Some of the common industries include education, finance, retail, healthcare, among others.
Not only businesses but government institutions also fall a victim of ransomware attacks, every now and then. On the 16th of August 2019, 23 local government entities in Texas were targets of ransomware attacks. The source of all these attacks is believed to be the same.
Earlier this year, the Baltimore government’s computer system was hit by a ransomware attack, causing the state to pay $6 million ransom to the attackers.
There can be various reasons for choosing the target for a ransomware attack. However, the primary objective is always the same – inflicting damage to the targeted organization.
Some ransomware attacks occur to demand a hefty sum from the concerned business. The attackers identify organizations with loopholes in their network security and the ability to pay the ransom. With no preventive measures in place, the business owners are forced to pay whatever the attackers ask.
Other times, ransomware attacks can be carried out to hamper the process of a business and affect unrepairable damage. These types of attacks can be carried out by a competitor to hinder an organization’s progress by compromising its data.
Thirdly, some ransomware attacks are perpetrated just out of spite, where the attackers have a personal vendetta with the organization and want to get back at them.
There are various methods by which the ransomware gets installed into the computer system. The most common among them is email phishing. Email phishing is a kind of attack in which the user receives an email with an unknown attachment.
As soon as the user opens the attachment, the ransomware gets installed into his or her system. To seem genuine, the address of the email resembles some reputable institution or government body such as IRS.
Another significant way by which the ransomware can be installed into the system is by visiting an unsafe website. These websites contain the ransomware program that gets downloaded into your system without you knowing about it.
Ransomware is primarily of two types –
Here are the four common types of ransomware –
In almost all the cases, the attackers ask for virtual currency in exchange for calling off the ransomware attack. Bitcoin, being the most famous virtual currency, is usually the preferred choice of attackers. As you cannot track back bitcoin to the owner, it is nearly impossible to recover the money once paid.
Ransomware has been an age-old menace for establishments all over the world. The first-ever ransomware attack was carried out way back in 1989 by AIDS researcher Joseph Popp with the help of floppy disks.
However, since then, as the security methods have seen significant advancements, so has the means of ransomware attack. With the evolution of the Internet, every bit of data started flowing in digital form. Ransomware started expanding its grasp around 2005 with ‘Trojan.Gpcoder’ crypto ransomware.
The locker ransomware appeared in the year 2011 with ‘Trojan.Winlock’, which locked down the system with a fake message.
Over the years, the ransomware attacks have increased exponentially with the first quarter of 2019, showing an increase of 118 percent (source: McAfee).
Ransomware is a malicious program that is installed on your local device from external sources. Hence, you should take every precaution while exporting or accessing some data from the Internet. Here are some safety tips you can follow to protect yourself against ransomware attacks.
Whether a private company or a government organization, every establishment gets affected by ransomware attacks. However, the type of impact on these organizations may be different.
When a business gets hit by ransomware, its reputation can be sabotaged within hours. Take the example of an e-commerce website carrying out a special offer gets hit by a ransomware attack during peak hours. Other than losing significant revenue, its reputation is also hit hard.
Moreover, the data can be compromised and leaked on the Internet or to the competitors. This is something from which the businesses can barely recover.
In the case of a government organization, the data can be leaked to the public or other countries if the ransom is not paid.
By the time you take some action against an ongoing ransomware attack, it is already too late. Ransomware attacks can quickly impact your organization as you all your critical processes are held captive.
Hence, it necessary for you to take a proactive approach and prevent the ransomware from happening in the first place.
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This post was last modified on January 6, 2023