What are ransomware attacks?
A ransomware attack is a common way to get ransom over the internet. It is a cyberattack that immediately denies access to a target user’s files, applications, databases, and other valuable information until the victim pays the ransom.
Ransomware is designed to target user files and doesn’t destroy system files. On the one hand, it ensures that users will be informed about attacks on their files. On the other hand, it allows users to pay a ransom to get their files back. Ransomware is usually distributed through malicious ads, water hole attacks, exploit kit or phishing emails.
Is ransomware still a threat?
Ransomware can be distributed to thousands of computers without causing additional costs. If some of the target victims pay a ransom, the criminals will get considerable revenue to support further development of ransomware. In addition, it is difficult to trace back to the attacker who creates and distributes ransomware.
Cyber attacks often come from countries that are not strict with such crimes. In fact, many of these countries may have made a profit from these attacks. It is difficult to prosecute these cybercriminals, as a ransom is often paid in untraceable ways like cryptocurrency.
Briefly speaking, ransomware keeps spreading as long as systems and users are vulnerable to ransomware attacks. It is quite easy for them to get a lot of ransoms by distributing ransomware to a large number of victims.
Ransomware never goes away. It was first discovered in the 1980s and is still a threat to Internet users.
Why is it difficult to handle ransomware?
Unlike other cyberthreats, ransomware tells victims who they are. When a user’s device is infected with ransomware, it is generally accepted that ransom payment is the least expensive method of recovering data.
Unlike other attacks where the attacker only wants to access data or resources, blackmailers sometimes want both data and money. For this reason, in many cases, victims who paid ransoms didn’t get their data back.
What’s worse, the paid ransoms are often used directly for the development of the next generation of ransomware. And that’s why ransomware attacks are developing at an alarming rate, and ransomware families continue to evolve.
Ransomware can also spread quickly on the Internet. It has become a common threat in recent years as the web vulnerabilities on mobile and Internet of things (IoT) devices are increasingly exposed, as well as improved phishing and social engineering.
7 tips to defend yourself against ransomware
Ransomware can be distributed through many kinds of attacks, but the main entry point is still the email. The user can easily be infected with the ransomware without knowing what he is doing. Although training can reduce the risk, it can not fully protect a user from becoming a victim of ransomware attacks. Everyone can make mistakes. Because ransomware is constantly changing, a single system or process is not always capable of handling it.
It is a good idea to start defending yourself against ransomware with frequent backups. Another solution that is often used is to keep a backup in the cloud. So, if a computer gets infected with ransomware, the user can simply restore the computer to factory settings without losing a byte of data.
Since individuals, businesses and research institutions can all be attacked by ransomware, you should be familiar with how to protect yourself from them.
- Data backup and recovery.
To some extent, data backups can reduce the loss caused by ransomware attacks. However, these backups should also be protected against malware infections and damage.
Here are two main methods to back up:
The simplest precaution is to back up your data to the cloud. A public cloud like Google Drive and OneDrive offers gigabytes of free space in the cloud that is sufficient for individuals.
If you have concerns about the security of the public cloud, you can use cloud hosting solutions such as Acronis. These programs are similar to Google Drive and provide fast and reliable file storage and personal support services that allow users to choose where to store their files.
- Awareness of data security should be raised.
Continuous safety training for Internet users is very important. Users should know about the ransomware distribution method, including unknown websites, unknown download sources, social media, social engineering, spam and phishing emails. Case studies will raise users’ awareness of potential risks.
- Use anti-virus software and a firewall.
Ransomware can easily infect your device if there is no protection. Therefore, you should protect your devices with anti-virus software and a firewall. In addition, other methods for securing your devices can also be used, including patch management, web content filtering, and other security tools such as virtual private networks (VPN).
- Keep away from phishing emails.
The phishing email is the main method used to distribute ransomware. Users should not open phishing emails and click on malicious links. In addition, relevant email protection should be adopted to protect your email and confidential information.
- Take multi-layer protection.
Simple and single-layer protection can not guarantee the security of user data because a lot of ransomware is combined with more complex cyber attacks. Users should adopt multi-layer protection to protect themselves against advanced cyber attacks, such as intrusion protection, gateway anti-virus, advanced threat protection, and other network-security-based methods.
- Monitor the encrypted network traffic.
More and more web services are encrypted by SSL/TLS. If ransomware spreads through encrypted web services, it can bypass the traditional protection measures. Therefore, protection that supports SSL monitoring must be taken to detect if there is any threat in SSL encrypted communications.
- Network segmentation.
Now that ransomware can be distributed across LAN, users should separate important files, applications, databases and other information to an isolated network to avoid the infection of ransomware.