What is ransomware? I bet you’re aware that cybersecurity is important, however, you’re probably clueless when it comes to knowing what the different types of cyber-attacks are and how to prevent yourself from them, right? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to give you a ransomware definition, explain the different types and provide suggestions on how to prevent a ransomware attack!
What is Ransomware?Ransomware is a form of malware that will take over a users system by locking and encrypting all their files. It will then demand a ransom in order to re-activate the system. The user is most commonly notified of the attack by a clear message displayed on their screen, giving them direct instructions on how to pay and what to do next. The hacker promises to “decrypt” or “unlock” the system, once they’ve received payment, which attackers now prefer to be paid in a virtual Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to keep their identity safe. However, this is not always the case, so if you find yourself falling victim to a ransomware attack, think long and hard before you pay the ransom, as there’s no guarantee that you’ll get your data back! Ransomware costs businesses around the world more than $75 billion per year.
How does Ransomware Work?The first thing to do in order to prevent ransomware is to understand how it works. There are several different ways that ransomware attacks your computer, all equally devastating. One of the most common ways of contracting ransomware is from a phishing attack or ransomware email – emails that include attachments which contain malware, or links to other malicious websites. Now, it might sound ridiculous, to think that people are still opening unsolicited email attachments, but so far in 2019 “ransomware from phishing emails increased 109 per cent over 2017“. Furthermore, once the ransomware has been successfully downloaded and opened by the user, it starts to wreak havoc on the user’s system. Usually, attackers tend to use a shotgun approach when distributing ransomware, instead of individually targeting users. They do this by acquiring a list of email addresses or unsecured websites and then fire off hundreds of attacks at once.
Ransomware TypesAs previously mentioned, there are several different types of ransomware, some more complex than others. Here are some of the most common ransomware examples:
- CryptoMalware Crypto-ransomware is a program that encrypts files located on a computer or mobile device. It will scramble the contents of a file and demand a ransom to restore it. One of the most publicised examples of this is the 2017 Wanncry attack.
- Scareware Scareware is software that will present itself as some kind of security or tech support. It will then claim to have found issues on your computer that can only be fixed by paying money. If you choose not to comply, it will either lock your computer or present itself as frequent annoying pop-ups, until you do!
- Lockers This type of ransomware is best known for completely locking you out of your computer. You won’t be able to access any of your files or data until the hacker’s demands are met. When starting your computer, you’ll see a very legitimate looking message notifying you about some kind of illegal software on your computer. This is of course, fake, but without paying the ransom, can be very difficult to remove.
- Doxware If you’re a victim of Doxware, then an attacker is also likely to threaten to leak your data online if you refuse to pay the ransom. The data can be absolutely anything they’ve managed to gain access to, such as passwords, photos and credit card information. This type of ransomware forces a lot of people to pay, as they don’t want their sensitive information spread around online.
- RaaS Ransomware as a Service (RaaS), is very similar to the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. It is very easy to operate, meaning that cybercriminals can launch a ransomware attack in no time. Cybercriminals can purchase RaaS packages online that are ready to use, so they don’t even need much coding experience to launch an attack.
- Mobile Ransomware This form of ransomware is malware that is purposefully designed to affect mobile devices. It will steal your data or lock your device, and demand a ransom. The most common way to get this form of ransomware is by accidentally downloading it through social media channels, assuming it’s innocent content. “More than 18 million mobile malware instances were detected by Symantec in 2018.”