What is Ransomware?

What is Ransomware?

What is Ransomware?

Malware is a term that covers all malicious software that can be dangerous to a computer. This includes viruses and Trojans. Ransomware is part of the malware category and can be a threat to you, your devices, and your business from a security and financial perspective. A form of malware, ransomware locks your system’s screen or user files and the cyber-attacker demands a ransom for them to release it. 

How Ransomware Works

Ransomware uses asymmetric encryption, which is cryptography that uses a pair of keys to encrypt and decrypt a file. The key is uniquely generated by an attacker, using their own server to store the private key to decrypt the files. After the ransom has been paid, the attacker makes the private key available. Unfortunately, in many ransomware campaigns, that is not always the case. Without access to the key, it is nearly impossible to decrypt files being held for ransomware.

Often ransomware is distributed through email spam campaigns or targeted attacks. The ransomware needs to establish its presence on an endpoint. After it’s established, it stays on the system until its task is complete. After a successful attack, ransomware executes a malicious binary on the infected system which searches and encrypts valuable files (documents, images, databases, etc.). Ransomware can also exploit an entire system and its network vulnerabilities to spread to other systems, possibly infecting entire organizations.

Different Types of Malware

The threat posed by ransomware depends on the type of virus. There are two types of categories of ransomware: locker ransomware and crypto-ransomware.

Locker ransomware blocks basic computer functions. For example, you may be denied access to the desktop while the mouse and keyboard are partially disabled.

Crypto-ransomware encrypts certain file types on infected systems and forces users to pay the ransom through certain online payment methods to get the decryption key.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

To protect yourself, your computer, and your system from ransomware:

  • Do not open unverified emails or click links embedded in them
  • Back up files using the 3-2-1 rule: create three backup copies on two different media with one backup in a separate location
  • Update your software, programs, and applications to protect them from the latest vulnerabilities
  • Equip personnel with adequate knowledge of ransomware and other threats that utilize phishing and unsecured accounts
  • Prevent users from running certain programs that can be used by ransomware variants
  • Limit access to shared or network drives and turn off file sharing

Solutions to Fight Against Ransomware

The best wait to stop ransomware is to take a multi-layered approach to prevent it from reaching networks and systems. This will be the best way to minimize the risk.

For enterprises, email and web gateway solutions prevent ransomware from reaching end users. You’ll want to look for a solution that minimizes the risk of getting infected by offering behavior monitoring and application control. It should also detect and block ransomware on networks and stop it from reaching enterprise servers whether that be physically, virtually, or in the cloud.

If your organization does happen to be affected by ransomware, you can mitigate the effects dealt by the conditions of these extortion schemes by taking the following steps:

  • Notify law enforcement about the attack and extent of the breach
  • Follow data regulation protocols like the GDPR and make the necessary disclosures or notifications
  • Prevent similar attacks from succeeding by addressing the security issues exploited

Find Ransomware Protection with PacGenesis

Ransomware is a significant threat to both private users and companies. It’s important to keep an eye on the threat it poses and be prepared. That’s why it’s important to learn about ransomware, be cautious of how devices are being used, and install security software to prevent attacks. At PacGenesis, we are a team of advisors with over 10 years of data security experience that find and implement solutions for your organization’s needs. We partner with some of the leading providers of cybersecurity to enable your business to protect its employees, customers, and data. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you and what the best solution is for your business.
To learn more about PacGenesis, follow @PacGenesis on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or visit pacgenesis.com.


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