One thing about cybersecurity is the fact that it’s always evolving and changing with the times. This is the result of a constant back-and-forth struggle between hackers and those who are tasked with preventing their activities. As old vulnerabilities are closed, new ones are found or created. The result is a landscape that changes very regularly. Like most people, Criminals have a tendency to stick with the methods that work and abandon those that do not. The same is true of the cybersecurity professionals who work to stop them. Let’s talk about the current state of ransomware and how the different types are evolving to become even more dangerous.
In order to provide you with accurate information, we have sought out the most up-to-date ransomware information from trusted and respected sources. First of all, we have this report from IBM. It offers a lot of good information about the tactics and tools that ransomware hackers are currently using. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued some government-approved ransomware guidelines that are also quite helpful and informative.
Finally, we have this report from the Open Web Application Security Project, which mainly focuses on ransomware prevention and mitigation. Thus, we have an industry source, a government source, and a source from a private cybersecurity organization. All three of these reports are great resources for those who want to learn more about ransomware.
What Is Ransomware?
In most cases, ransomware is a special kind of malware that uses encryption to lock you out of your own devices and/or network. Because encryption is very secure, it is virtually impossible for the intended victim to decrypt their files. Encryption is normally one of the strongest tools against data theft, but ransomware hackers have learned how to use it for the opposite purpose.
They call it “ransomware” because these attacks involve holding the target’s data for ransom. Once your resources are encrypted, they will issue a ransom note demanding money or other compensation in return for the password to the ransomware encryption. The first thing you need to know is this: Do NOT pay these kinds of people! You cannot trust them to keep their word, and you also don’t want to encourage this sort of behavior.
Non-Standard Variants Of Ransomware
In the above section, we briefly described the “standard” type of ransomware attack. They infect you with malware through trickery, encrypt your data, and then demand a ransom for the password. However, there are other ways in which data can be held hostage. We can better understand this fact by looking at some non-standard ransomware variants.
Dark Web Ransomware
Instead of trying to encrypt the data in place, some ransomware variants will simply steal as much sensitive data as possible. If the information is sensitive/valuable enough, it can potentially be sold on the dark web for a large profit. In case you don’t know, the dark web is basically the hidden side of the internet where not many people go. The dark web (also sometimes called the “deep web”) is generally frequented by criminals, although people do sometimes go there for legitimate reasons.
So, what happens when hackers threaten to sell your data on the dark web? Such a thing is very dangerous for any company, so there is a fear factor that hackers can use to their advantage. They simply send a ransom note that threatens to publish or sell the specified information on the dark web unless a ransom is paid.
The easiest way to deal with a ransomware attack is to delete everything and then restore your whole system from the most recent backup. When this method is possible, ransomware data recovery is relatively easy. As long as you have been backing up your data in a complete form (i.e., system images), it isn’t that hard to do such a restoration. Although it takes some time, you need to overwrite the data on all the devices and systems that were affected. Otherwise, remnants and hidden files could remain. With this in mind, some ransomware variants are now programmed to seek out and destroy data backups. That’s why they should always be stored offline.
In some cases, hackers will use a combination of methods. For instance, they might steal your data for sale on the dark web, and then encrypt the whole system in place. This gives them a way to get paid twice, and these sorts of criminals certainly don’t have any qualms about taking your money and burning you anyway.
As we have already said, most ransomware hackers will not return your data, no matter how much you pay them. In fact, if the attack is a malicious one, they might simply delete your sensitive data in a permanent way. When this kind of ransomware is used, even the attacker cannot recover your data.
DDOS attacks are very simple and quite effective for shutting down a targeted website. You basically use a large number of users (or a large bot network) to overwhelm a server and shut it down. A web server can only handle so many connection requests at one time. Once you exceed that limit, the whole thing shuts down. It’s like the online equivalent of your computer crashing because you tried to do too much at once. Because DDOS attacks can take a company offline and basically cripple their business, it is possible for criminals to extort you by using or threatening such attacks.
It isn’t hard to see that ransomware is an ever-growing and ever-evolving problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. Rather than limiting themselves to the older methods, hackers are finding new ways to extort businesses, and that’s why it pays to be informed about these threats. If you would like to know more, or if you need ransomware recovery services for your business, you can call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.