In the modern-day lifestyle, the use of computers and the internet is a mandate and with the growing industry of computers and telecommunication, the vulnerability has also grown in its ways. Our systems are always vulnerable to attacks and so is our data. Almost all of you must have come across random links floating around the internet, or have faced virus attacks, or at least must have read about it. These are the common things that come as an ugly complimentary with the use of the internet and computers. Of course, you have firewalls installed to keep safe, but malware attacks can still happen.
Malware is a piece of software that is meant to cause some or the other kind of harm to your system. They have the ability to spread throughout, remain untraceable, and keep infecting the system persistently. Malware attacks go back to early times even before the internet was widespread. There are various kinds of malware, to name virus, trojan, worm, spam, ransomware, rootkits, adware, spyware, and keyloggers.
What Is Ransomware?
As the name suggests, it is a form of software malware that involves the demand of ransom (amount of money, often demanded to release the captive) to grant access to a victim’s computer that has been locked under attack. A usual computer user can come under the attack by clicking on a link which may look like attractive or might have something exciting, but actually isn’t, and that is often how the infection starts. The cybercriminals then hold your data and release them only on paying some amount. Ransomware attacks go back to 1989 when the first attack appeared. It was called AIDS or the PC Cyborg Trojan, which affected the healthcare sector. The virus infected the systems and showed a message to renew their license with them and paying a definite amount by post. Earlier, the cybercriminals were asking for the money to be posted, but now in the world of bitcoins, it has become more dangerous and active, especially for organizations that hold businesses. What happens with a ransomware attack is that, all your data is on your computer system but in encrypted form and the only way to get the decryption key is by paying the cybercriminals their demanded amount. Sites like ransomware.org are a great help on learning about successful prevention tactics and tools. Fighting back sometimes can be more threatening, as you might never get the decryption key and all your important data stays inaccessible by you, and sometimes you might end up losing all of it as well.
Types of Ransomware
Clicking on an attractive link and inviting the ransomware is not the only to be infected by the malware. There are ways of how ransomware can enter your system.
This is a way in which your operating system is attacked that keeps you locked out of your system, thus making it impossible for you to access anything on the system. This is mostly Android-based. Reventon is locker ransomware that started appearing towards the end of 2012. It locked the victim out of the system and displayed a message, almost as similar to that from officials like the FBI, or any national organizations demanding a fine (ransom) for running illegal activities on the system.
This particular malware encrypts every data on the system starting from files, folders on your hard disk. CryptoLocker, one such type appeared in 2013 and disabled in 2014. This particular malware went on encrypting all the data on systems by generating symmetric keys and at last demand the victim to pay to get access to the private asymmetric key for decryption of all the symmetric keys within a deadline, and if not the keys would be deleted. Similarly, CryptoWall spread through attachments and links which encrypted the data, but gave one decryption code for a single use for one file to prove to the victim that they had access. CTB-Locker, TorrentLocker, Bitcryptor, and Coin Vault, all involved demand of bitcoin from the victims. Some other examples are TeslaCry that attacked files generated by computer games, Locky that affected the systems through MS Office attachments, and WannaCry that affected more than 100,000 computers in 2017 due to the security issue with Microsoft Windows.
This comes as an antivirus or cleaning tool in disguise to demand money for irrelevant issues and sometimes ends up locking your system.
This plays a panic game with the victim by demanding some amount to stop the leaking of personal data that the cybercriminals have extracted from the system.
This kind of malware is used by hackers. It is basically of software that will give you access to your data in exchange for ransom.
The Mac systems were attacked in 2016 by ransomware. KeRanger was the name of the malware that attacked the computers, those who had used the infected installer of open-source BitTorrent, Transmission.
Ransomware on Mobile Devices
This malware came with a malicious app that would demand fine for illegal activities.
We learned a lot about the types of ransomware and how they work. Just imagine the damage they cause or have already caused and the degree of infiltration into an organization’s or personal data. They spread without any targets when all they want is the extraction of money. While targetting larger entities can deliver them more money which stands profitable. They attack organizations with low security, but however, having an abundance of personal data that cannot be exposed or cannot be lost. For example, universities or colleges hold student data that are sensitive. Organizations like banks, government facilities, medical sectors are bound to get back to the track in time by looking at the greater good. The cybercriminals are likely to attack such organizations where there is a certainty of payment. Attacking law firms that hold the most sensitive data is another thing for the criminals. For the bigger incomes, the cybercriminals target the huge corporate sectors and try to extract as much as they can with the ransomware attack.
While we are discussing this topic, somewhere some team or an individual is working on another ransomware. We never know when another variant might appear that would trap a great number of victims. It is a major security of the millennial world and is a trend in cybercrime. Taking the scenario, taking measures to keep your personal and work data safe is of utmost importance. A proper data back remotely and the use of software that protect your system is highly necessary. In order to practice this, keep your system’s exposure minimum and avoid being the next target.