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Ransomware – What is it? How does it work?

Home / news  / Ransomware – What is it? How does it work?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software hackers use to block users from accessing your own or company data. The cyber hackers encrypt the files on your system and add extensions to the attacked data and hold it hostage until the demanded Ransom is being paid.

But how does Ransomware work?

Ransomware can enter a network in various ways; the most popular is a download via a spam email attachment or considered phishing emails. The download then launches the ransomware program that attacks the system. Other examples of entry include social engineering, downloads of malicious software. They can also enter a network by chat messages or even removable USB drives.

Typically, the software gets introduced to the network by an executable file that may have been in a zip folder or disguised as a viable attachment. The file then encrypts the data, adds an extension to the files and makes them inaccessible.

The typical steps in a Ransomware Attack are:

  1. Infection
  2. Secure Key Exchange
  3. Encryption
  4. Extortion
  5. Unlocking

After the disguised file has been delivered to the system via email attachment, phishing email or other, the Ransomware installs itself on the endpoint and any network device it can access. The Ransomware contacts the control server operated by the hackers to generate a cryptographic key that is sent to the local system. Then, the Ransomware starts encrypting any files it can find on the entire network. When this is done, the Ransomware displays the instructions for extortion and how to make a payment. If these requirements are not met, the destruction of data may be threatened.

Companies & organizations have two options at this point. 1 – pay the Ransom and hope for the cyber hackers to actually decrypt the affected files 2 – They can attempt a recovery by removing infected files and systems from the network and restoring data from clean backups. Now that we discussed the steps in an attack, what about how to defeat the attack?

Steps to Defeat a Ransomware Attack

  1. Protect – The only way to protect your organization and data iis to perform frequent backups. This dramatically reduces data loss in the event of an attack. We also strongly recommend that the 3-2-1 rule is followed; 3 copies of your data, 2 different types of media, 1 copy off-site.
  • Secure – Ransomware is an industry that is constantly evolving with new versions of the software being released and downloaded every day. The bottom line is that creating or buying your own Ransomware appliance has never been easier and might be the best option as most Ransomware criminals predominantly target Windows-based servers.
  • Test – It’s crucial that your team always know exactly the time of your last proper backup. This is the point that you can be assured that your data is fully protected and available for recovery.
  • Detection – Early detection is key to reducing the amount of data that is lost. Combined with running select backups during the day, reporting on storage anomalies can also help identify that an attack has occurred or is actively underway.
  • Recovery – The surest way of being certain that Ransomware has been removed from a system is to do a complete wipe of all storage devices and re-install everything from scratch. Formatting the hard drives in your system will ensure that no remnants of the malware remain.

Ransomware is a major threat to every organization and it’s IT assets. Whether your office is located in New Jersey, New York or down south in Austin, Texas, all companies need to think about Ransomware as a possible threat within their organization. Talk with us today to learn more about Ransomware and how SEGMENTECH can assist you.