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It encrypts an individual's, a company's or an organization's most important files and documents using asymmetric encryption to create a public-private pair of keys. The victim of a ransomware attack can only get access to the private key, which will decrypt their files if they pay the ransom. Many cybercriminals these days deploy a "double extortion" technique, where they first scan sensitive files before encrypting them. The criminal gang will demand payment to decrypt the files and to prevent sensitive information from being made public or sold.
Although the first ransomware attack took place in 1989, the recent wave of ransomware attacks began in 2017 with the WannaCry outbreak. Original ransom payments were made by email but nowadays are usually demanded to be paid in cryptocurrency.
How Do I Get Ransomware?
A cybersecurity expert once remarked, "Given the choice between dancing penguins and cybersecurity, dancing penguins win every time." He was referring to the human propensity to want to enjoy the moment of dancing penguins, rather than worrying about where those dancing penguins originated.
Cybercriminals gain access to a network or computer using such methods. They frequently depend upon individuals paying more attention to the dancing penguins than cybersecurity. Here are some common methods of ransomware:
There are three main types of ransomware:
There are several well-known versions of ransomware:
The earliest victims of ransomware were individual computer users. Anyone sitting at home would suddenly see a pop-up saying they had to pay ransom to regain access to their files. Cybercriminals soon realized that they could make a lot more money targeting businesses. According to a study by Veeam in 2022, 76% of companies said they had been the target of a ransomware attack, and 60% of that number were targeted more than once.
Ransomware attacks have sometimes even gone after entire cities. In March 2018, the SamSam ransomware knocked out several critical municipal services in Atlanta, including the police record-keeping system. In the end, this attack cost Atlanta $2.6 million.
Cybercriminals, often based in countries like Russia or China where it is difficult for authorities to stop their activities, focus on Western nations like the United States, Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom. As new markets emerge, such as Brazil or India, companies and facilities in these countries are likely to become more frequent targets of ransomware attacks.
The number one rule if you find yourself a victim of a ransomware attack is never, never, pay the ransom.
In some cases, you might be able to remove the ransomware using decryptors, many of which are free (visit the No More Ransom Project). Choose a ransomware decryptor carefully, as it must match the kind of ransomware on your computer or network, or you can further encrypt your files. Sometimes you can use a remediation computer product to scan your computer. You might not be able to retrieve all your files using this method, but you can remove the malware infection.
Some other steps include:
"I'll do something about it when I have the time" is a surefire way to make your company a target of a ransomware attack. Don't put off till tomorrow what you needed to do yesterday. You should prepare as if it will happen to you. Two important steps are:
Here are some other steps you can take:
You are crucial in protecting your company or organization from a ransomware attack. The key is vigilance, staying on top of the issue and finding the best software to safeguard your organization. As noted several times above, one of the most critical factors is creating backups for all your data and files.
Veeam offers a secure and dependable single-solution product to protect you against ransomware and includes backing up your most important files, giving you the ability to restore your data as quickly as possible. It automatically tests your backup files to ensure they are malware-free and ready to be used at a moment's notice. Your business will be back online quickly when you rely on Veeam.
2022 Data Protection Trends
The largest data protection industry report from 3K+ IT leaders