Ransomware is an insidious type of malware that locks your keyboard or computer, restricting you from accessing your data until you pay a fee or a ‘ransom’ for its release. The ransom is generally demanded in the form of Bitcoins, a digital currency that is sent using a computer or mobile app.
Ransomware is not new; this form of digital extortion has been around since 2005. However, with technology becoming more and more sophisticated attackers are now making use of modern techniques via ransom cryptoware. Through this malware, the victim’s files are encrypted using a key that only the attacker has access to. This is far more dangerous than merely locking your keyboard or computer. Today, malware is not just limited to laptops or desktops—it has evolved to be able also to target cellular devices.
Cybersecurity threats have become a significant area of concern for law enforcement agencies. It impacts more than just individuals—government agencies, academia, corporate sectors, and law enforcement bodies also have been victims of ransomware. There are multiple ways through which ransomware can affect your systems. It can be done through the opening of a malicious email, visiting a malicious website, and even through a backdoor on your previously-infected computer, despite the fact you paid the required ransom after you’ve already fallen prey to ransomware.
Computers worldwide have been affected by malicious ransomware, with the cybersecurity firm Symantec estimating that at least $5 million is extorted from ransomware victims each year. That is a conservative estimate, as it is believed most companies pay the ransom and don’t report cases of ransomware to preserve their brand. Unfortunately, not reporting ransomware is a trend that is not expected to change. In May of this past year, the WannaCry ransomware worm wreaked havoc on users, infecting nearly 200,000 systems in 150 different countries—including the United States, the UK, and Russia. The magnitude of the event was so massive that hospitals in Great Britain were forced to turn down patients and divert them to other facilities. It also affected universities, governmental bodies, such as the Russian Interior Ministry, and global corporations, such as FedEx and Nissan.
This threat is imminent but can be avoided through diligence and heightened security practices. These include regularly updating your anti-virus software and operating system, avoiding malicious sites and suspicious emails, and perhaps most importantly, regularly backing up your systems on external or off-site hard drives that can’t be infected. This last measure allows you to ignore the ransomware by merely restoring your computer if you do fall victim.
Contact Verticomm today to learn more about data security and how your business can mitigate the risks and minimize the damage from this digital scourge.