Ransomware

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that takes control of an individual’s or organization’s computer files and networks. It does this by encrypting or locking the data and then demanding a ransom payment to unlock it, thus earning its name. This malicious software has been an increasing problem since the mid-2000s, with ransomware infections bringing companies and individuals to their knees. Today, ransomware has become a common cyber threat.

Cybercriminals typically distribute ransomware through phishing email attacks, malicious downloads, and malware-infected systems. It may also spread through security vulnerabilities in outdated software or hardware and through removable media such as USB drives.

Phishing attacks involve targeting individuals or organizations with malicious email attachments or links. When the link or attachment is opened, ransomware can be installed on the user’s computer.

Malicious downloads are files that have been maliciously altered or infected with malware and can infect a user’s computer when downloaded. Ransomware can also be installed on victims’ computers through systems already infected with malware.

In all cases, once the ransomware is installed, it will encrypt your files using strong encryption algorithms and demand a ransom payment for their return.

ransomware attack

Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

How Ransomware Has Evolved Over the Years

Ransomware originates in the AIDS Trojan and PC Cyborg viruses of 1989. The first known modern-day ransomware attack was the “PC Cyborg” virus in 1989. The malicious code was created by a graduate student and distributed on floppy disks via Usenet. It would encrypt the system’s hard drive, preventing access to files until a monetary payment was made.

While these early ransomware attacks were not as sophisticated as those seen today, they were still effective in extorting victims. Since then, we’ve seen various iterations of ransomware become more and more malicious and difficult to detect with traditional antivirus solutions.

In the mid-2000s, ransomware began to appear as a form of “malware as a service” (MaaS). MaaS allowed malicious actors to purchase access to an online platform where they could construct and distribute their own custom ransomware. This led to the development of more complex forms of ransomware like CryptoLocker, which was responsible for over $3 million in losses.

Today, ransomware is used by threat actors to target individuals, businesses, and even government organizations. Cybercriminals will use various methods, such as social engineering or exploit kits, to gain access to sensitive systems or data. Once they have gained access, they are able to deploy their malware, which then encrypts all of the data on the system, rendering it inaccessible. As a result, victims are typically displayed a ransom note that urges them to pay a ransom in return for access to their data.

In response to this growing threat, governments and organizations have been working to develop better solutions for detecting and defending against ransomware attacks. However, due to its constantly shifting nature, ransomware remains a major threat to organizations of all sizes.

What You Need to Know: Prominent Types of Ransomware Attacks

Notable examples of ransomware attacks include WannaCry (2017), Petya/NotPetya (2017), TeslaCrypt (2015–2016), and CryptoWall (2014–2016). In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware spread quickly worldwide and affected over 200,000 computers in 150 countries. In 2016, CryptoWall infected more than 625,000 systems in the US alone. Petya/NotPetya, another ransomware attack that occurred in 2017, affected many major international companies, including FedEx and Maersk.

In addition to disrupting normal operations, ransomware attacks often cause financial losses. TeslaCrypt, for example, was estimated to have caused a total of $1 billion in damages by encrypting the data within victims’ computers and demanding payment of Bitcoins in exchange for decryption keys. CryptoWall also caused significant financial losses — it is estimated that more than $1 billion was lost in the attack.

According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, by 2021, ransomware damages had cost businesses around $20 billion annually. The increase in damage costs is attributed to the growing ransomware sophistication and its ability to penetrate any system regardless of geography or sector. Additionally, according to a report by Kaspersky Lab, more than 57.4 million users have been attacked with ransomware since the start of 2017.

Additionally, in 2021, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack became one of the most prominent examples of ransomware attacks to date. The attack began in late April and resulted in the disruption of fuel supplies all across the Eastern United States. Over 5,500 miles of pipeline were affected, leading to major shortages and price hikes at gas stations. The attacker responsible for the attack, DarkSide, is a Russian-based group that has been linked to numerous other ransomware attacks.

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack has had a significant financial impact. It is estimated that the total costs associated with the attack could reach $3 billion. This includes losses from the pipeline shutdown, disruption to businesses, and costs associated with restoring systems to their former state. Some experts also speculate that these costs could be much greater and exceed $5 billion.

ransomware attack statistics

Source: World Economic Forum

How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

Ransomware attacks have become common due to a number of factors, including the proliferation of ransomware-as-a-service offerings on darknet markets, the increasing use of cryptocurrency payments, and the ability to launch sophisticated campaigns involving multiple malware strains.

The most common ransomware targets are businesses and individuals who are not very good at computer security. Businesses that do not update their software and hardware do not employ antivirus software, open suspicious links or attachments, download files from untrusted websites, or use insecure networks are more likely to be targeted by this type of malware attack.

The best way to protect yourself from ransomware is to increase your overall security posture through a combination of education, prevention, and response strategies. Education should focus on teaching users how to recognize the signs of a ransomware attack and what to do if they suspect they have been targeted. Prevention is key in stopping ransomware attacks and includes:

  • Using up-to-date software.
  • Enabling two-factor authentication when possible.
  • Creating copies of backup files regularly.
  • Practicing good cyber hygiene.
  • Remaining vigilant and aware of common ransomware attack vectors.
  • NOT PAYING the ransom demanded by cybercriminals.
  • Seeking a security expert assistance if infected.

In other words, responding to a ransomware attack quickly and effectively is essential in minimizing damage and recovering stolen data.

By following these guidelines, individuals and organizations can help protect themselves against the damaging effects of ransomware attacks. With proper education and prevention strategies, users can significantly reduce their risk of becoming ransomware victims.

Ransomware List

Geometrical Ransomware: Another Malicious Digital Player screenshot

Geometrical Ransomware: Another Malicious Digital Player

Geometrical Ransomware has emerged as a formidable adversary in the vast and ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats. This new strain of malware is a ransomware-type program based on the Chaos framework,... Read more

June 21, 2024

GhostHacker Ransomware: The Silent Encrypter

What is GhostHacker Ransomware? GhostHacker Ransomware is an unsettling addition to the ransomware family that encrypts victims' files and demands payment for decryption, although it lacks some typical features of... Read more

June 19, 2024
What is and How to Remove Dkq Ransomware screenshot

What is and How to Remove Dkq Ransomware

Dkq Ransomware, a member of the Dharma family, encrypts files on infected systems and appends a ".dkq" extension to their filenames. This malware alters original file names to include a unique ID and an email address... Read more

June 14, 2024
Run Ransomware: A Persistent Threat in the Digital Age screenshot

Run Ransomware: A Persistent Threat in the Digital Age

In the ever-evolving world of cyber threats, ransomware poses significant risks to individuals, businesses, and organizations. One of the latest ransomware strains, Run, has emerged as a formidable threat, adding to... Read more

June 11, 2024
What is Malware Mage Ransomware? screenshot

What is Malware Mage Ransomware?

Malware Mage Ransomware is a malicious software that encrypts files on an infected system and appends a ".malwaremage" extension to their filenames. For instance, files originally named "1.jpg" and "2.png" would be... Read more

June 10, 2024
RansomHub Ransomware: The Evolving Face of Cyber Threats screenshot

RansomHub Ransomware: The Evolving Face of Cyber Threats

What is RansomHub Ransomware? RansomHub is another iteration of a notorious ransomware lineage, evolving from its predecessors, Knight and Cyclops Ransomware. This rebranding signifies not just a change in name but an... Read more

June 6, 2024
AzzaSec Ransomware and the Anxieties It Brings screenshot

AzzaSec Ransomware and the Anxieties It Brings

What Is AzzaSec Ransomware AzzaSec ransomware is another threat that has emerged in the cyber landscape. AzzaSec targets and encrypts a wide array of files on infected systems. This ransomware appends the ".AzzaSec"... Read more

June 20, 2024
Jinwooks Ransomware Brings In Cyber Extortion screenshot

Jinwooks Ransomware Brings In Cyber Extortion

What is Jinwooks Ransomware? Jinwooks Ransomware is a threat in the cyber extortion landscape, based on the notorious Chaos ransomware, which includes such infections as PatchWorkApt Ransomware and SatanCD Ransomware,... Read more

June 19, 2024
What is L3MON Ransomware? screenshot

What is L3MON Ransomware?

L3MON is a type of ransomware derived from Chaos, a known ransomware variant. This malicious software encrypts the victim's files and renames them by appending a unique four-character extension. Additionally, L3MON... Read more

June 13, 2024
The Menace of Trinity Ransomware: What You Need to Know screenshot

The Menace of Trinity Ransomware: What You Need to Know

In the evolving landscape of cyber threats, ransomware remains a prominent menace. Trinity Ransomware has made headlines among the many variants for its aggressive tactics and devastating impact on victims. This... Read more

June 11, 2024
Orbit Ransomware: What It Is and How to Avoid It screenshot

Orbit Ransomware: What It Is and How to Avoid It

What is Orbit Ransomware? Orbit ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to encrypt files on a victim's computer and demand a ransom for their decryption. Orbit ransomware targets files by appending a... Read more

June 7, 2024
Behind the Threat That is HsHarada Ransomware screenshot

Behind the Threat That is HsHarada Ransomware

Introduction HsHarada ransomware is a malicious software variant that has surfaced in the cybersecurity world. It is known for encrypting victims' files and appending a unique six-character alphanumeric extension to... Read more

June 5, 2024
The Cyber Menace in the Shape of COBRA Ransomware screenshot

The Cyber Menace in the Shape of COBRA Ransomware

Introduction to COBRA Ransomware COBRA Ransomware is another threat identified based on the Chaos framework. It is designed to encrypt a victim's data and demand a ransom for its decryption. Other similar infections... Read more

June 20, 2024
Lord Bomani Ransomware And The Dangers It Brings screenshot

Lord Bomani Ransomware And The Dangers It Brings

Ransomware has become a significant threat in the cybersecurity landscape, and a new variant known as Lord Bomani is making headlines. Belonging to the GlobeImposter family (along with SchrodingerCat Ransomware and... Read more

June 17, 2024
DORRA Ransomware: Another Threat From Makop Family screenshot

DORRA Ransomware: Another Threat From Makop Family

What is DORRA Ransomware? DORRA Ransomware is another variant within the Makop ransomware family. Similar threats include Reload Ransomware and Datah Ransomware.This malicious software aims to lock victims out of... Read more

June 12, 2024
Fog Ransomware Proves to be Relentless for Encrypting Files on Infected Computers screenshot

Fog Ransomware Proves to be Relentless for Encrypting Files on Infected Computers

Fog ransomware is a particularly dangerous form of malware designed to encrypt files on infected computers, leaving victims unable to access their data without paying a ransom. This ransomware appends either ".FOG" or... Read more

June 10, 2024
Anonymous Encryptor Ransomware: Another Digital Shadow screenshot

Anonymous Encryptor Ransomware: Another Digital Shadow

Unveiling Anonymous Encryptor Another menace has emerged in the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats: Anonymous Encryptor Ransomware. This malicious program bears striking similarities to two other ransomware... Read more

June 6, 2024
Watz Ransomware: Another Threat from the Djvu Family screenshot

Watz Ransomware: Another Threat from the Djvu Family

Watz ransomware is another variant within the Djvu ransomware family, a notorious group known for encrypting victims' files and demanding ransom payments. Other threats from this group include Oflg Ransomware, Bgzq... Read more

June 5, 2024
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