The Cyber Threat That Holds Your Data For Ransom

“One million dollars!”  It’s the classic line from Dr. Evil, the villain from Austin powers, when he threatens the world with a nuclear bomb. This iconic scene may bring laughter to our minds, but in real life anything dealing with ransom is typically void of laughter. Ransomware is no exception! 

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a software, paired with a hacker, that kidnaps your data and ransoms your company! When this happens, you have limited options; pay and hope the hacker gives you access to your data again, move on and lose your data, or revert to your backups. Ransomware does not just affect companies and corporations, but they go after every day average Joe’s as well! The best way to beat your enemy is to know your enemy and prepare!

How Does Ransomware Work? 

How does Ransomware work exactly? Ransomware is a virus that encrypts your data with a unique private key that only the hacker knows. When this happens, it can be extremely difficult to outmaneuver because your data can be destroyed in the process. Once a device has been infected and the hacker has secured your data you will get a display message stating that your files have been encrypted and you must pay $X in order to recover them. Most people typically end up paying the demanded amount to get their data back because it is cheaper to pay than losing valuable information.

Where Have We Seen Ransomware Before? 

Two popular examples of Ransomware are CryptoLocker and CryptoWall. CryptoLocker was a cyberattack that occurred in September 2013 to May 2014. It gained entry to its victims through email attachments, and once it was in it would encrypt certain types of files stored in the network drives with a key stored on the malwares control servers (in the hands of the hackers). Researchers could not find a feasible way to break the encryption code leaving many victims forced to pay in the hopes of regaining the key to decrypt their data, however payment did not always lead to getting the key. This cyber attack successfully extorted roughly 3 million from victims before being shut down by Operation Tovar.

CryptoWall works very similar to CryptoLocker, but it has been updated and renewed to the point that it is still infecting networks today! It is easy to use and cheap making it the ideal Trojan horse for cybercriminals to use. CryptoWall has accumulated roughly $325 million in ransom!

How Can You Avoid Ransomware?

  Backup! Backup! Backup! The best defense to Ransomware is to have all your data safely backed up. This protects you in any case that Ransomware pops up as you can just delete the infected files and upload your backup files, leaving you unaffected! Another major way to prevent Ransomware for seizing your data is to keep all your devices, browsers, and software up to date. CryptoWalls are still alive and they evolve fast, if you are running on old versions you are leaving a hole open for Ransomware so Update! Update! Update! 

What are your thoughts?