In a world where reliance on computers and networking is more notable than ever, the number of cyberattacks is rising at unprecedented rates.
Ransomware attacks are the newest member of the gang. They can be quite risky because once your computer is hit by ransomware, it’s time to say goodbye to your valuable data or money.
In this guide, we’ll give you a quick overview of how ransomware attacks happen and their types and severity. We’ll also help you understand how to keep your data safe and the measures you can take to protect your data from ransomware threats.
How a Ransomware Attack Works
Ransomware attacks usually start with the user clicking on a fake email, social media message, or pop-up ad that seemingly looks legit.
When the user opens it, the cybercriminal will infiltrate the system using a vector. Once the system is compromised, the ransomware will encrypt some or all of the data on the system and demand a ransom in exchange for giving the user access to their data again or stop the public release of data.
Usually, the user gets detailed instructions on how to proceed with the payment, granting them the decryption key.
Types of Ransomware
Here’s a quick overview of some of the types of ransomware that have been identified to date:
Bad Rabbit is simply a fake Adobe Flash update that keeps on redirecting users to a payment page.
Ryuk ransomware was the reason why one-third of ransomware victims got their data breached. Ryuk ransomware attacks encrypt important business files and ask for millions of dollars to remove the encryption.
This type of ransomware usually targets hospitals, companies, and governments.
Just like Ryuk, RobinHood ransomware encrypts data and demands a high ransom in return. The money is usually paid in bitcoins. RobinHood attacks happen through phishing scams.
REvil is a “Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) type of operation. It’s one of the most common types of ransomware attacks, which also means that it makes the biggest chunks of money.
REvil heavily relies on “affiliates” that distribute the ransomware. Once the criminals put their hand on the data of businesses, they threaten to release them if large sums of money aren’t paid for the restoration.
Unlike other types of ransomware attacks, DoppelPaymer focuses on breaching systems through specific admin credentials and, consequently, gaining access to the rest of the Windows network.
DoppelPaymer is also known to be the first type of ransomware where the criminals actually call the victims and demand the money.
Notable Ransomware Attacks From 2020
“Data breaches, ransomware attacks, and hacks are happening on a near-daily basis and it has never been more important to protect your online identity. With the theft of your online identity, a cybercriminal may be able to access your passwords, banking details, obtain credit cards or loans under your name, and more.” – Harold Li, vice president, ExpressVPN.
Ransomware attacks have seen a dramatic boost in 2020, and here are some of the most notable ones that happened throughout that year:
The University of Utah Ransomware Attack
In July 2020, the University of Utah was hit by a ransomware attack that held 0.02% of its data. While such percent may sound negligible, it actually contained sensitive student and employee data.
In the end, the university had to pay a ransom of $457,059.24 to protect the data of their employees and students.
Toll Group Ransomware Attack
Toll Group, an Australian transportation and logistics company, suffered from two ransomware attacks in 2020.
The first one resulted in the suspension of a major portion of its delivery services. That’s right; a single ransomware attack has almost fully immobilised one of the largest logistics companies in Australia.
All of the company’s customers in Southeast Asia and Australia couldn’t send or receive shipments for days, and over 1,000 servers were affected.
University Hospital of Dusseldorf
The ransomware attack on the University Hospital of Dusseldorf in Germany carried a heavy toll because it resulted in a fatality.
A woman was being transported to the hospital’s emergency room, but it was closed because of a ransomware attack. She was redirected to a hospital 30KM away, but unfortunately, she couldn’t make it and died before reaching there.
Impact of Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks have cost many businesses thousands or even millions of dollars. The average cost of a ransomware attack for businesses is estimated to be $233,217. Such a number is high enough to put a small company on the verge of bankruptcy.
And it’s not just about the money. Many organisations have been traumatised by the ransomware attacks because they made them feel less secure.
How to Protect Your Data From Ransomware Attacks
There are several measures that you can take to protect your data from ransomware threats, which include:
1. Test Your Systems Once or Twice a Year
The best way to protect yourself or your company from ransomware attacks is by preparing for the worst and testing your system at least once a year.
2. Use an Encryption Software
An encryption software, like a VPN (Virtual Private Network), is an excellent way to protect your data from ransomware attacks. VPNs hide your IP address and encrypt your data when your systems are online, making them unreadable.
3. Create System Backup
Creating cloud-based system backups is an excellent way to keep a copy of your data in the event of a ransomware attack. This is only beneficial if you don’t care about revealing your data to the public.
Ransomware attacks come when you least expect them, and the worst part is that they’ve managed to penetrate some of the most highly-protected systems in the world.
However, if you take some necessary precautions and develop awareness about how ransomware attacks happen in the first place, your chances of getting exposed to one will decrease.