You open an attached file from an email, and it locks your screen with a big warning sign that exclaims: YOUR FILES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED. You are now a victim of ransomware 

Lived it or not… Either way, it’s urgent to know that there’s a type of Malware that limits access to your own computer… Unless a ransom is paid (that’s where the term comes from).

Awareness is your best weapon in this cyber extortion war being fought on the internet.

Let’s see how Ransomware works and how to prevent it or get rid of it. 

What is Ransomware and How it Works?

Ransomware is also considered Scareware because Fear is what makes it so effective. 

Cybercriminals push victim’s boundaries to force irrational payment.

The target of this attack varies, but it tends to be someone “important” locally or a high-charge business person.

Just think about it… Getting locked out of your system and the files inside is a scary thought.

You might fear to lose your job by giving hackers an infiltrated gate to your company’s files.

Or yourself, business owner, getting crippled for a freeze on vital software that you had to use to keep your company going.

Even more, getting publicly embarrassed by the exposure of unwanted material.

All of it is a reality in today’s world. How does it happen exactly?

Ransomware can be “injected” into your system at visiting malicious websites.

It can be received by opening malvertisements or any attachment inside email spam. 

Other Malware you got infected with can be responsible for loading Ransomware inside of your devices. Yes, I said devices because it doesn’t happen only on PC or MAC.

But don’t worry… It won’t always lock your entire computer. Sometimes it will just encrypt specific, targeted files. 

As told on the introduction of this article: as soon as you get infected, it displays a full-screen notification, with instructions on “how to pay the ransom”. 

You see… This is nothing new. 

Do you know how it worked back then? 

And how advanced it has gotten so far?

Origin and Evolution of Ransomware   

The first cases of Ransomware infection were detected in Russia (2005 – 2006). 

It was something new. Almost no-one knew about it. No-one knew how to avoid it.

Ransomware was limited to Russia but it spread fast to other European countries due to its profitability. 

This TROJ_CRYZIP.A locked files before overwriting the originals (.DOC, .XLS, .JPG, .ZIP, .PDF) leaving only the password-protected zip in the system. The only footprint left behind was a text file that informed victims to pay $300 for their data. 

The years passed by and other Ransom families joined to the party: LOCKY (RANSOM_LOCKY.A), PETYA (RANSOM_PETYA.D), CERBER (RANSOM_CERBER.A), SAMSAM (RANSOM_CRYPSAM.B), and JIGSAW (RANSOM_JIGSAW.I)

Although the biggest attack known to date was caused by the variant “Wannacry” or “WCRY” which exploited recently-patched vulnerabilities in the SMB Servers of Dropbox URLs that were embedded in spam

This keeps proving how hostage-taking techniques keep evolving, taking advantage of more advanced encryption technologies.

The threat is still growing and isn’t going away any time soon.

That’s why we predict Ransomware trends around IoT, Social Media, and Utility Infrastructure. Meaning, more people targeted, for a probably higher amount of money.

Ransomware Prices and Payment 

Although it’s hard to get an exact match of average price-points for digital ransom… We can analyze 2018 ($4,300), 2019 ($5,900) and 2020 ($8,100) to print a $10,000 tag for 2021.

While these numbers aren’t high enough to worry most MyITGuy readers, there are hidden costs that you must re-consider: Average cost of ransomware-caused downtime per incident.

  • 2018 – $46,000
  • 2019 – $141,000
  • 2020 – $283,800

The amount to pay per ransom has clearly multiplied several figures in only 3 years. 

If you’re a small business owner, this could exterminate everything you have built in so far.

And this is without even taking into account that hackers attack victims more than once.

Being optimistic if they actually provide a decryption key or unlock tool to recover your data.

Don’t even think about your Bank or Financial institution saving you big from this once. 

Ransomware operators use cryptocurrencies 99% of the time to assure anonymity. Other times, Amazon and iTunes gift cards are used as alternative payment methods.

You can be 100% sure about one thing in particular: Ransom prices depend entirely on the Ransomware type and the exchange rates of digital currencies. 

7 Types of Ransomware

In some way, Ransomware is also Crimeware (software designed and purposed for monetary profit). But this doesn’t end here.

Ransomware comes in many shapes and forms, with some more dangerous than others… But all 7 seven seek the same goal: to ransom you, and your business. 

  1. Lockers 
  2. Crypto malware (as WannaCry) 
  3. Scareware
  4. Doxware (Also known as extortionware or leakware)
  5. RaaS (“Ransomware as a service”)
  6. Mobile devices
  7. Mac Ransom

Ransomware Defense, Prevention, and Removal

Ever-evolving as an attack tool, the most simple ransomware is capable of destroying your business entirely – Without forgiving if it’s small, mid, or big-sized. 

This is especially risky for the economic uncertainty we’re living.  

That’s why we decided to do something about it… 

You can install a cybersecurity program for early detection. You should also create a backup of your data on a regular basis. You must keep all you system and software updated.

But even with all of that, there’s a chance of getting attacked by Ransomware when you less expect it.

You need to count on a safe and private Cyberinfrastructure, with a Security Assurance that covers up your valuable Data.

Contact us!… That’s what we do, for you.