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Ransomware – The History and Preventive Measures!

ransomware-guide

For several years now, ransomware attacks have been increasing enormously. Back in 2013, Cryptolocker hit the headlines as it was a first ransomware program to be launched. Until 2014, when its distribution networks were taken down CryptoLocker wreaked damage infecting countless business and personal computers. Since then, they have been unique ransomware infections, some of which use this name, but are in fact no similar program. In this post, we are going to discuss about Ransomware in detail.

The History

The primary threat of computers today comes from what is called as Malicious Software. The designation covers various types of sub categories that antivirus firewall software protects against. Also, these categories include a spyware, adware, malware, ransomware, Trojan Horses and viruses. While both are totally different. A virus can enter the system through normal modes, either downloaded by you or installed through unprotected areas. This was made not much effective for the many parts with the protection development of the software. Though, the Trojan horse virus was made to beat this as well.

The Top Targets of Ransomware Creators and Distributors

Cyber hackers soon realized that organizations and companies were more profitable than users, so they went behind the larger targets: city councils, police departments and even schools and hospitals.

To offer you some perspective, mostly 70% of the infected business preferred to pay the ransom and then recover the documents. More than 50% of the business have to pay a ransom which is worth to forty dollars in order to recollect their data.

But for now, let us find how the hackers target various types of web users. This might guide you better to know why things happen as they do it properly now.

Why Home Users are Targeted by Ransomware Creators?

  • They might not have any backup option to collect the data
  • As they are not much aware of the cyber security, which means they might end up clicking which Is not necessary.
  • As they are not much aware of the online safety awareness which enables them prone to manipulation to cuber hackers.
  • They are not much aware of the baseline cyber protection
  • Home users never keep their software updated
  • Not much aware of the cyber security solutions
  • They often believe that keeping themselves safe online depends on luck. You probably might have heard this.
  • They rely totally on antivirus to save them from all sorts of threats, which is mostly ineffective in stopping or finding out ransomware.
  • Because of the pure volume of web users that might become potential victims, the more the system gets infected, the more the money is.

Why they Target Businesses?

  • It’s obvious why they target businesses, that’s where the bucks are more!
  • Because attackers are aware about a successful infection that might cause major business disruptions, which might increase their chances of getting paid.
  • As systems in organizations and companies are often prone and complex to vulnerabilities that can be utilized through technical means.
  • As the human factor is still a large liability which can also be utilized, but through social engineering techniques;
  • As Ransomware can enormously affect not just the PCs, but also servers and cloud – based file sharing systems, rooting deeper into the business’s core.
  • As the cuber criminals know that the business might not report an infection for legal or fear consequences and brand damage.
  • As small businesses are usually prepared to assign with advanced cyber attacks and have a safe bring your own kind of policy.

Why they Target the Public Institutions?

  • As public institutions, like as the government agencies, control large databases of confidential and personal details that cyber hackers can sell;
  • As the staff is not trained to see and omit cyber attacks.
  • They often used old version software and equipments, that is their systems are loaded with security holes just seeking to be exploited.
  • As a successful infection has a huge impact on performing usual activities, making huge disruptions

How does the Threat Spread?

Cyber criminals just look for the  quickest way to infect the system or network and use that feature to unroll the malicious content.

The most common infectious techniques used by cyber criminals are;

  • Spamming email campaigns that include infectious attachments and links. There are many forms that malware can use for personate on the internet.
  • Web traffics can take you to malicious sites
  • Security utilizes the vulnerable software
  • Malvertising campaigns
  • Drive by downloads
  • Targeting mobile devices for SMS messages

How the Infection Happens?

Though, the phase of the malicious is slightly different from each version, the basic stages are the following;

  • The victim might get an email which has an infectious link
  • If the link is clicked or downloaded or opens the attachment, a payload might be placed on the affected PC.
  • The downloaded uses a list of C&C servers or domains maintained by cyber criminals to download the ransomware program on the system.
  • The contacted C&C server reacts by sending back the requested data.
  • The infection them enter the complete hard disk such as saved information, personal files and so on. Including the information saves on Dropbox or Google Drive will also be sourced.
  • Then a warning might pop up on the screen with details on how to pay for the decryption key

All these will happen in just a few minutes, making the victim dumb.

Why it is Undetected by Antivirus?

Ransomware uses various kinds of evasion techniques that makes it hide and allow it to;

  • Not be able to find by any antivirus product
  • Undiscoverable by cyber security researchers
  • Not be able to observe by law enforcement agencies and by their own researchers.

The most scandalous ransomware families are;

  • Wannacry
  • Uiwix
  • Cerber Ransomware
  • Locky
  • Torrent Locker
  • CryptoLocker
  • Cryptowall
  • CTB Locker
  • Reveton
  • TeslaCrypt

According to Microsoft’s data, around 10 different types of deceptive malware operations have been detected in 2016 which are considered to be the part of ransomware family and targeted 5 different countries. Have a look at below charts;

Top Ransomware Families

Ransomware in Top 5 Countries

Seven Different Types of Ransomware

Currently, online world are experiencing 7 different types of ransomware such as;

  • Ransom:Win32/Cerber
  • Ransom:Win32/HydraCrypt
  • Ransom:Win32/Critroni
  • Ransom:Win32/Teerac
  • Ransom:Win32/Locky
  • Ransom:Win32/Troldesh
  • Ransom:Win32/Spora

Here are few screenshots you might experience when your PC get ransomware infection. Check them out below;

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Steps to Save Yourself from Ransomware Attacks

Take Preventive Measures

As an essential step, take preventive measure to control ransomware attacking you. These steps can guide you to be safe.  The preventive measures are listed here;

Installing a Quality Security Suite

Most of the ransomware attacks occur through these types infectious links in email and through infected sites. Using anti – malware system can find and detect spam emails and infectious sites to stop them at the beginning stage. Use software firewall protection and a good anti – malware program to build  an extra defense line against the attack. This way you can feel safe to your system without getting into trouble.

The Browsing Behavior

This is a sheer fact that many virus attacks occur through infectious links and infected sites. Thus, by shifting the browser behaviour you will be able to save your PC from any unknown trouble. Don’t even consider opening links or emails which have an unknown recipient. Don’t open any lucrative ad or another link to save your system from possible ransomware attack.

Setting System Restore Point

This is a vital step to save your system form any possible data loss from of any kinds of ransomware attack. System restore point effectively takes the backup of all the essential files so that you can collect that data in future incidents.

Data Backup

Take this preventive measure to save yourself from any data loss. Always consider taking data backup at regular intervals. Take this backup on an external hard dish or on cloud servers so that you access and restore this data when you need.

Keeping your System Updated

Many ransomware attackers only aim those systems which are not up – to – date. As these old system remains vulnerable to virus attacks. This is essential to know that each update comes with a specific bug fix and security updates against such infectious attacks. Thus it becomes essential to keep your system updated with latest operating system updates.

Another crucial step to consider is to avoid the pirated software as they might contain infectious content. Always check for the source of the software you are downloading. As many of those developers need to register and sign digitally In all their software. If your OS warns you about the program that is not signed then it is better to cancel such download.

How to Get Rid of the Ransomware?

After practising all the preventive measure in case your system gets affected by the threat apply below mentioned steps to beat ransomware.

Logout from the Network

Once ransomware or any sort of malware attacks your system, then focuses to connect to its common and control servers for more details. To omit this situation, you need to disconnect the system from the network once you find out about the malware. This way you easily break down the link between the ransomware servers and infected system.

This way you will be able to save other systems from getting malicious too. Also ransomware consumes time to encrypt and infect all your details and files that you can save certain things from getting infected.

Conclusion

When we come to know that the damage of ransomware attacks can cause it becomes essential to take certain preventive measures like attacks. In fact, practicing these measures enhances better option with it comes to ransomware attacks. There are very few techniques available to decrypt files encrypted by this attack.

Hardip Koradia

Written by Hardip Koradia

Hardip Koradia is a pro tech blogger with years of experience in writing resourceful articles on different tech topics like mobile apps, PCs, gadgets, software, how to guides, etc. His passion for technology inspired him to start Techbylws, a growing tech blog.