Beware! Ransomware!

File Encrypting Malware That Threatens to Destroy


What is it?

Ransomware is a form of malware used in cyber-attacks. The malware encrypts the victim's files or locks the victim out of gaining access to the files. As the name implies, the attacker proceeds to request a ransom for the safe return of the files to the victim. Information is usually provided as to where a disclosed amount of money should be paid and a specific date and time is identified. This kind of ransom is most often requested in Bitcoin as this form of currency is not traceable.

How Does A Cybercriminal Take Control Using Ransomware?

Access is most commonly gained through phishing emails through an attachment that is opened from a seemingly trustworthy source. Once downloaded and opened the attacker can gain access to the victim's computer systems. This is especially relevant where Social Engineering Tools are built-in. These tools trick the user into allowing administrative access without suspecting anything untoward. 

 

There are more aggressive types of ransomware that don't need to trick the user but rather exploit holes or weak spots in the security to gain access to the computer or systems. In most scenarios, the modus operandi is the same. The files are encrypted, a ransom is requested in exchange for the decryption code.

 

Once the files have been encrypted, they can only be revered using the mathematical key known only to the attacker. An alternative attack might be the threat of leaking sensitive information to the public using Leakware or Doxware. Encryption ransomware is by far the most popular among cybercriminals.

 

Who Are the Targets and Why?

In many cases targets are selected simply because of the opportunity presented at the time. It may be organisations with smaller security teams or companies where file sharing is the norm making it easier to breach security protocols. In other instances, it may be enticing to attack organisations that are more likely to pay the ransom quickly.

 

Government and medical facilities would most likely pay up quickly as they need access to their files on demand whereas organisations like legal firms would probably have sensitive information which they fear will be leaked to the public.  
 

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