As we're heading towards the digital world, the threats are increasing too as thieves have found new ways to rob users. One of the latest forms of digital threats is Ransomware attack.
A ransomware attack is a type of cyber attack in which an attacker gains unauthorized access to a victim's computer system and encrypts important files, rendering them inaccessible to the victim.
The attacker then demands a ransom payment from the victim in exchange for the decryption key to restore access to the files.
If we talk in simpler terms, it's works same as abductors that ask for a random. The difference here is that the stolen valuable is your digital data and the payments they ask for are in digital form too (Bitcoins, Ethereum, NFT's) .
The targeted files could be anything useful, it could be some company's data, your personal information ( bank related or your account's access), someone's private picture or videos or any sort of information that would be enough to blackmail one.
Anatomy of Ransomware Attack and How it works?
The attack typically begins with the attacker gaining access to the victim's system through different means that could be phishing emails, malware and through toxic softwares.
The virus tries to find files with extension (doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx, pdf, jpg, txt) in every folder and encrypts them. Once he gets the access, the attacker search in and encrypt important files such as documents, photos, and videos.
The victim may not be aware of the attack until they attempt to access the encrypted files and are unable to do so.
Once the attacker gains the access, a file appears on the desktop telling the person that his files are being attacked and he can't have access to it anymore.
The attacker will then typically demand a ransom payment in the form of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to be paid within a certain timeframe.
Payment is done in digital currency because it doesn't reveal its identity and the attacker remains anonymous.
The victim may be given instructions on how to pay the ransom and may be given a deadline before the ransom amount increases or the files are permanently deleted.
If the victim chooses to pay the ransom, they may receive the decryption key and regain access to their files. However, there is no guarantee that the attacker will provide the key, and in half of the cases, the attacker may not have the capability to decrypt the files even if the ransom is paid.
According to FBI, you should never pay random as it encourages them and there's no surety that it might make you have your data back.
How to avoid ransomware attacks?
Ransomware attacks can be particularly damaging for businesses and organizations, as they can result in lost productivity and revenue. Additionally, the attack can also lead to loss of sensitive information, reputational damage, and regulatory fines.
In 2019, A Texas based company named CNA suffered an ransomware attack that affected 75000 users and they had to pay 40 million dollars to get the access back.
To avoid falling victim to a ransomware attack all you could do is to prioritize your security. Some of the best ways to do it are as follows
1. Keep Your Softwares Updated
It is important to keep software and security systems up-to-date. Because whenever a software company gets to know about this sort of breaches, they work accordingly and upgrade their softwares so they could be able to fight against these threats.
This makes their softwares sustainable enough that they could defend user's data if any sort of mishap happens.
2. Be Wary of Suspicious Emails and Links
It's a common thing that we find some links or emails that redirect us to other pages. Once you give them the access the hackers gets its hands on your data, he's ready to ask for ransomware.
Always look at the left corner of every site, if you can see the lock icon ( 🔒) it means that the site is secure to browse. Avoid the sites without this icon.
3. Keep Regular Backup
Always keep a regular backup of your important files to an external source. It could be uploaded to on sites or apps that work on cloud backup method or the most convenient way is to have an external backup in a hardware device.
4. Keep renowned antivirus
Always have a trusted antivirus installed on your device . So whenever a virus reaches your device, it'll let you know and eliminate it. There are some antivirus like Kaspersky and Bitdefender that have the anti ransomware abilities too
5. Forward Planning
All the companies should also have an incident response plan in place in case of an attack. They should have in mind what they have to do if any threat of this type appears.
What to do if your device is affected with ransomware
Every year, thousands of people lose an average of 75 billion dollars to these ransomware attackers.
What if a person unknowingly fall into the hands of a hackers. These are the steps he should take after an ransomware attack.
The first thing a person should do is disconnect their computer from the parent network so it won't travel to other devices. It'll prevent the ransomware from spreading further.
They should also power off their computer and refrain from turning it back on until instructed to do so by a cybersecurity professional.
The next step is to contact a cybersecurity professional to assess the damage and determine the best course of action. This may include restoring the affected files from a backup or attempting to remove the ransomware using specialized software.
They could also run an antivirus or specialized software that might help in getting you the encryption key. But this only works in rare cases.
It is also important to take steps to prevent future attacks. This may include updating your operating system and software, using anti-virus and anti-malware software, being cautious when opening email attachments and links, and backing up important files on a regular basis.
It is also important to report the attack to the relevant authorities, such as local police and the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). This will help them track down the attackers and prevent future attacks.
In short, after a ransomware attack, the first thing to do is disconnect the computer from the internet, Contact a cybersecurity professional or a reputable computer repair service, don't pay the ransom, take steps to prevent future attacks, report the attack to the relevant authorities and have an incident response plan in place.
A ransomware attack means stealing someone's digital asses and then asking for random to give the access back. You can use multiple softwares and backup plans to prevent these attacks once you get attacked you should focus on not letting it spread further. Remember giving the ransom is never a good.