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 It may also spread through security vulnerabilities in outdated software or hardware and through removable media such as USB drives.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

Ma1x0 Ransomware Encrypts Victim Systems screenshot

Ma1x0 Ransomware Encrypts Victim Systems

Ma1x0 is a ransomware variant. Key findings indicate its association with the Mallox family, as it appends the ".ma1x0" extension to filenames and includes a ransom note ("HOW TO RESTORE FILES.txt"). The manner in... Read more

February 28, 2024
Jkwerlo Ransomware Holds Your Files Hostage screenshot

Jkwerlo Ransomware Holds Your Files Hostage

Jkwerlo is categorized as ransomware, functioning with the intent to encrypt data and demand payment for decryption. When a Jkwerlo sample was executed, it initiated the encryption process on files. Unlike many... Read more

February 23, 2024
GoodMorning Ransomware is a Threat Despite Strange Name screenshot

GoodMorning Ransomware is a Threat Despite Strange Name

During the examination of new malware samples, we identified a variant of the GlobeImposter ransomware family, named GoodMorning. Once infiltrating a system, GoodMorning commences the encryption of files and appends... Read more

February 22, 2024
TransCrypt Ransomware Locks Infected Drives screenshot

TransCrypt Ransomware Locks Infected Drives

While examining the TransCrypt malware, we found that it is a form of ransomware derived from the Chaos ransomware. TransCrypt operates by encrypting files, appending random extensions to filenames, altering the... Read more

February 21, 2024
SWIFT Ransomware Locks Infected Systems screenshot

SWIFT Ransomware Locks Infected Systems

While analyzing new malware samples, we identified a ransomware variant associated with the Proton family, named SWIFT. Upon infiltrating a computer, SWIFT encrypts and alters the names of files, changes the desktop... Read more

February 20, 2024
BackMyData Ransomware is a Clone of the Infamous Phobos Ransomware screenshot

BackMyData Ransomware is a Clone of the Infamous Phobos Ransomware

BackMyData is a type of ransomware associated with the Phobos family. Our findings reveal that BackMyData encrypts files and alters their names, introducing two ransom notes ("info.hta" and "info.txt"). The file... Read more

February 15, 2024
XznShirkiCry Ransomware Uses Bilingual Ransom Note screenshot

XznShirkiCry Ransomware Uses Bilingual Ransom Note

The ransomware known as XznShirkiCry came to our attention during our examination of malware samples. This malware encrypts data, modifies filenames by adding a specific extension, alters the desktop wallpaper, and... Read more

February 27, 2024
HomuWitch Ransomware Will Lock Your System screenshot

HomuWitch Ransomware Will Lock Your System

HomuWitch operates as a form of ransomware, encrypting data and demanding payment for decryption. HomuWitch would encrypt files by appending a ".homuencrypted" extension to their titles. For instance, a file... Read more

February 23, 2024
WantToCry Ransomware Encrypts Most File Types screenshot

WantToCry Ransomware Encrypts Most File Types

WantToCry is a type of ransomware designed to encrypt data and modify filenames by adding the extension ".want_to_cry." Upon encryption, the ransomware presents victims with a ransom note named "!want_to_cry.txt,"... Read more

February 22, 2024
Lockbit Gang Dismantled in International Police Operation screenshot

Lockbit Gang Dismantled in International Police Operation

Interpol and the British National Crime Agency (NCA) have successfully penetrated Lockbit's systems and exfiltrated its data. As a notable ransomware group believed to operate from Russia, Lockbit is a major player in... Read more

February 20, 2024
Lkfr Ransomware Will Encrypt Victim Files screenshot

Lkfr Ransomware Will Encrypt Victim Files

Lkfr was identified during the examination of recent malware samples. It has been established that Lkfr is part of the Djvu ransomware family. This particular variant encrypts files and alters their filenames by... Read more

February 19, 2024
Z1n Ransomware Locks Victim Systems screenshot

Z1n Ransomware Locks Victim Systems

During a routine examination of new files, our researchers identified the Z1n ransomware, which belongs to the Dharma ransomware family. This malicious software encrypts data and demands payment for the decryption... Read more

February 14, 2024
Bl00dyAdmin Ransomware Threatens Data Leaks screenshot

Bl00dyAdmin Ransomware Threatens Data Leaks

Upon analyzing new malware samples, we identified a variant of ransomware referred to as Bl00dyAdmin. This malicious software encrypts data and alters the names of encrypted files by appending the ".CRYPT" extension.... Read more

February 27, 2024
US Posts New Bounty of $15 Million on the LockBit Ransomware Gang screenshot

US Posts New Bounty of $15 Million on the LockBit Ransomware Gang

The United States is offering substantial rewards for information regarding cybercriminals associated with the recently dismantled LockBit ransomware operation, but law enforcement agencies assert they have already... Read more

February 22, 2024
Dxen Ransomware Locks Most Files screenshot

Dxen Ransomware Locks Most Files

Dxen has been identified as a form of ransomware. It belongs to the Phobos ransomware family, which typically encrypts files and demands payment for decryption. Upon testing Dxen on our system, it encrypted files and... Read more

February 21, 2024
ZENEX Ransomware Will Encrypt Victim Systems screenshot

ZENEX Ransomware Will Encrypt Victim Systems

During our examination of new malicious file samples, we identified ZENEX as ransomware associated with the Proton family. ZENEX is crafted to encrypt files, alter the filenames of encrypted files, display a ransom... Read more

February 20, 2024
2023lock Ransomware Threatens Data Leaks screenshot

2023lock Ransomware Threatens Data Leaks

2023lock operates as a type of ransomware malware with the primary purpose of encrypting data and demanding ransom payments for its decryption. During our testing on a virtual machine, 2023lock successfully encrypted... Read more

February 19, 2024
Lkhy Ransomware Will Encrypt Your Drives screenshot

Lkhy Ransomware Will Encrypt Your Drives

After a thorough examination of new malware samples, we've identified Lkhy, a ransomware variant linked to the Djvu family. Lkhy encrypts files and alters their names by adding the ".lkhy" extension, for instance,... Read more

February 14, 2024
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