Ransomware is the biggest malware threat — stop hackers from hijacking your data

Ransomware is an ongoing scourge, with the nasty malware affecting users as well as large-scale organizations. We have seen AMD and Intel suffer from data breach in an active Gigabyte ransomware attack, Microsoft faces massive email hackand Cyberpunk 2077 developers CD Project Red under fire with a nasty security breach — and that’s not until 2021.

As Check Point Survey (CPR) has found that the wave of ransomware attacks began in the third quarter of 2020, with a 50% increase in the daily average number of attacks compared to the first half of that year. Have these attacks decreased? No chance. Ransomware even skyrocketed to 93% in 2021, and attacks — like Foxconn production is interrupted – continue to this day. Yikes.

The intrusive software can be seen as the worst form of malware as it sometimes takes a simple phishing email to lock down your files, documents and PC, only to be released again if users comply with ridiculous ransom demands. The good news is that there are a few ways to get around any serious data hijacking.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is extortion software used by hackers to deny access to files on a victim’s device, encrypt user data, and make ransom demands to gain access. These attackers often threaten users with leaking the data they’ve locked down, and in some cases they even slip the public a bit to let victims know they mean it.

Think of it as someone changing the lock on your house and holding the only keys to get it open again. If a ransom is paid, hackers will release the decryption key so that users can regain access to their files. These threat actors may not even have big plans to use this data in any way, but once they get the payment, they win.

Other forms of ransomware allow attackers to effectively steal data (also known as data theft), giving them full power to leak this data online. Worse, users may not know what data has been stolen, allowing hackers to manipulate what data they threaten to leak and scare, all to ensure they get the money they demanded.

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For example, during the CD PROJEKT Group data breach, the company claimed it had “reason to believe” that the illegally stolen data from the security breach is not only shared on the Internet, but can also be manipulated or manipulated. The company was unable to confirm the contents of the data, forcing the team to guess what was stolen and who it would be sent to.

Ransomware preys on people’s privacy fears, and despite large companies refusing to give in to demands, it halts operations on a large scale. In severe cases, ransomware prevented hospitals from functioningshowing the seriousness of what one malicious malware attack can do.

How ransomware works

Unfortunately, like most malware, ransomware can easily infect a device if users are not careful. An untrustworthy website or poorly received email with a suspicious link can lead threat actors to deploy malware to lock your files and ask for payment.

This is one of the simplest methods of distributing ransomware. Emails with malicious links can lead victims to a seemingly trustworthy website with download links or attachments containing the malware downloader.

As CPR comments, another way is through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) services. This can be trickier for the hacker as they need a user’s credentials to run the malware. But this can be done by brute force attacks if the user has a weak password, or by using other methods to get their credentials. From here. Threat actors can remotely access a computer and download the malware themselves.

Credit: Getty Images/Matic Grmek

This is where data is encrypted. While hackers may have full access to a device’s contents, the main goal is to extract as much money as possible from the attack, leading to a high ransom. Since many devices are the rightful owners of a device, ability to encrypt filesit’s a simple procedure for attackers to do.

Once done, the attacker will ask for payment. This can be done in several ways, be it changing the desktop background with a message from the hacker or a text file on the device. Ransom is usually paid through cryptocurrency. If paid, the attacker then sends a copy of the encryption key to the user so that they can access their files. It’s never a good idea to give in to demands, of course, but it can put users and organizations in a very difficult position.

How to avoid ransomware

Whatever it may be adware, spyware or stalkerware, the best way to avoid ransomware is to keep a close eye on any suspicious emails, links, or files you have received. Of course, this can be tricky in itself, as threat actors go to great lengths to impersonate otherwise trustworthy companies or websites. Fortunately, the tech industry has taken a number of countermeasures.

As cybersecurity companies will tell you, keeping your devices up to date when a software update is rolled out and making sure the correct security patches are downloaded is a good way to keep all types of malware (including ransomware) at bay. . Especially when these updates are classified as critical. We know. Windows may have many updates in a given week, but they are implemented for a reason.

In businesses, CPR recommends adding strong firewall protections, performing routine audits, and ensuring that users only have access to data they need to do their jobs. One of the best ways to ensure that your device is virus and malware free is to do one of the following: best antivirus apps around.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

What’s more, for both Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs, there is a ransomware protection feature which allows users to protect their files, folders and data on their device from threats and “unauthorized changes” by unfriendly apps.