What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a kind of malware that stops users from accessing their files, database , applications or personal files and demands ransom to be paid in order to access your system and the attackers usually target individuals , corporations , industries etc. The most common way to attack is through a malicious email , where in case if you open the link the malware starts downloading or tracing transactions through crypto currency. Ransomware is normally designed in a manner to rapidly broaden across a network and attack data base, files, sensitive information etc. and get a hold of the entire organization.
Ransomware normally works very fast. In a matter of seconds, the malicious software will collect all the important information and encrypt it quickly and it is possible that they might delete any files they cannot encrypt.
Major Ransomware issues that happened recently
In 2021 , Italian vaccination registration system was down in a ransomware attack , hackers attacked the vaccination registration system in one of the Italy’s largest region provisionally blocking citizens from booking new vaccination spots.
They informed that hackers made nearly every file in the system’s data unreachable and that the local health system had shut down servers to avert the hit from spreading. And that’s an usual sign of ransomware hackers, who encrypt a computer network’s files in hope that they can extract a payment from the owners and later collect ransom
In 2021 , Buffalo Public Schools was victim of a ransomware attack , student names, district ID numbers, birthdates, grade levels, schools, addresses, phone numbers and parent names were out in the attack. The hackers also got into students’ demographic information, including gender, race and ethnicity, special education status and primary language.
The ransomware attack on March 12 shut down the entire school system, calling off both remote and in-person teaching for one week. The district is still investigating whether PII data was compromised as part of the attack.
In 2021 , JBS the world’s largest beef supplier in the world , paid the ransomware hackers who breached its computer networks about $11 million. The company was hacked in May by REvil, a number of Russian-speaking hacker gangs, that lead to shutdown of meat plants across the U.S. and Australia. On June 9 JBS paid $11 million to hackers.
The chief executive of the company’s United States division, Andre Nogueira, said it was a deal to prevent future attacks. The payments were done through Bitcoin, which is very common in a ransomware attack.
In 2021, Brenntag is a world-leading chemical distribution company headquartered in Germany but with over 17,000 employees worldwide at over 670 sites. Chemical distribution company Brenntag paid a $4.4 million ransom in Bitcoin to the DarkSide ransomware gang to receive a decryptor for encrypted files and prevent the threat actors from publicly leaking stolen data.
Brenntag’s ransomware attack is still known as one of the highest ransomware payments in history and as of yet, the money has not been recovered.
In 2021 , Colonial Pipeline , an American oil pipeline system that originates in Houston , Texas and carries gasoline and jet fuel mainly to the South eastern states, went through a ransomware attack and had a huge news coverage. The attackers demanded for 75 Bitcoin within several hours of the attack and Colonial Pipeline paid the ransom .
Chief Executive Joseph Blount told a US Senate committee that the attack occurred using a legacy Virtual Private Network (VPN) system that did not have multifactor authentication in place.
In 2020 , CNA’s network was attacked on March 21 and the hacker group encrypted 15,000 devices, including many computers of employees working remotely. The American insurance major has recently revealed that data of over 75,000 of its customers has been affected owing to the violation . CNA finally paid $40 million to ransomware attackers and restore their data. The attack is supposedly linked to the hacker group Evil Corp and uses a new type of malware called Phoenix CryptoLocker.
How to protect yourself from ransomware attacks –
– Do not open any links you get on your mail ,unless you know the person who has sent you , Email is easily accessible which creates a lot of problem , hackers can take advantage of this by using phishing emails to ploy users into opening files and attachments.
–Make sure firmware, anti-malware applications, functional systems, and software have the latest update. Attackers get updated so new ransomware versions come out often to ensure that your anti-malware recognizes advanced threats.
–Reaching the latest hi-tech protection , various organisations do not have the well-built protection needed to hinder such attacks, because they can be very expensive and complex which leaves the data to be compromised. So it is the best decision to get the latest hi-protection to save yourself from such attacks.
–Backing up vital data , it is one of the most effective way of retrieving your data from a ransomware attack. But keep in mind that your backup files should be confined and kept offline, so they can’t be a target for the attackers. Using cloud services is the best way to alleviate a ransomware attack from taking place. Always test your backups for effectiveness.
–Employees are the most exposed during a ransomware attack , teach your employees about micro learning, ransomware simulation tools to protect themselves. Use structured training to teach your employees to open attachments from recipients they are not aware of.
– Have strong configuration system , ensure your systems are configured with a good security level , a protected configuration setting can facilitate the perimeter your organization’s threat and seal security hole leftover from default configurations.
– Using sandboxes to test malicious software , A sandbox is an isolated testing environment that lets users to run programs or execute files without disturbing the application, system or platform on which they run. Using a sandbox also facilitates cybersecurity teams to protect themselves against a malicious software. In addition , a sandbox for malware detection wholly safeguards against ransomware attacks .
–Supervising your network , ransomware attacks are hazardous, but you can escape from an attack , if you catch them first. A strong monitoring tool attached with suitable network segmentation can enable you to end an attack.
– Go passwordless or have a strong password security , On an average, people use the same password for numerous sites. Ensure all employees have strong password and change it almost regularly. Or else, it becomes attackers to access the whole data and attack it. Also, consider using multifactor authentication or passwordless for a better security.
Written By: Sampreeta Subhakanshi