The Ultimate Guide to Ransomware Prevention

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects a computer or network and blocks the access to files or systems until a ransom is paid. Ransomware typically works by encrypting files on the infected system, making them inaccessible to the user. The attacker then demands payment, often in the form of cryptocurrency, in exchange for a decryption key that will unlock the encrypted files.

How Does Ransomware Start?

Ransomware can be delivered through a variety of methods, including email phishing scams, malicious attachments, or through vulnerabilities in software or operating systems. Once a system is infected, ransomware can spread quickly throughout a network, affecting multiple systems and devices, especially if they have built-in social engineering tools that trick users into allowing administrative access. From there on it can start collecting information going untraced.

Ransomware attacks can have serious consequences for individuals and organizations, including the loss of valuable data, financial losses, and damage to the reputation of the affected organization.

This is becoming the most come cyber attack due to the fact on how effective it has become.

Ransomware Types:

  • Encrypting ransomware: This type of ransomware encrypts a victim’s files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key needed to unlock the files.
  • Locker ransomware: Locker ransomware locks a victim out of their computer system or specific files and demands payment to regain access.
  • Master boot record (MBR) ransomware: This type of ransomware infects the MBR of a victim’s computer, preventing it from booting up properly. The attacker demands payment to restore the MBR and allow the victim to access their system.
  • Mobile ransomware: Mobile ransomware targets mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and can lock the device or encrypt the data until the ransom is paid.
  • Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS): RaaS allows cybercriminals to rent ransomware tools and infrastructure from others, making it easier for even those without technical skills to launch ransomware attacks.

How Ransomware Impact a Company

Ransomware is constantly being written and tweaked by its developers, and so its signatures are often not caught by typical anti-virus programs. In fact, as many as 75 percent of companies that fall victim to ransomware were running up-to-date endpoint protection on the infected machines.

Ransomware can have a significant impact on a company, both in terms of financial losses and damage to the company’s reputation. Here are some of the ways that ransomware can impact a company:

  • Financial Losses: One of the most immediate impacts of a ransomware attack is the financial losses that can result from paying the ransom, lost productivity, and potential fines for non-compliance with data protection regulations. In some cases, the cost of recovery may be greater than the cost of the ransom.
  • Disruption of Operations: Ransomware can cause significant disruption to a company’s operations, as critical systems and data may be rendered inaccessible until the ransom is paid or the systems are restored. This can result in lost productivity, missed deadlines, and potential revenue loss.
  • Loss of Data: Ransomware can result in the loss of valuable data, including customer information, financial data, and intellectual property. This can result in reputational damage and potential legal liabilities.
  • Damage to Reputation: Ransomware attacks can damage a company’s reputation, especially if sensitive customer or employee data is compromised. This can result in loss of customer trust, negative media coverage, and a damaged brand image.
  • Regulatory and Legal Implications: Companies may face regulatory and legal implications if sensitive data is compromised during a ransomware attack. This can result in fines and legal action, as well as damage to the company’s reputation.

Overall, the impact of ransomware on a company can be severe, both financially and reputationally. It is important for companies to take proactive steps to protect against ransomware, such as implementing security measures, training employees on security best practices, and regularly backing up critical data.

How They Make Money from Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the victim’s files and demands payment, usually in cryptocurrency, in exchange for the decryption key. The attackers behind ransomware make money by extorting payments from their victims.

Direct payments: When victims pay the ransom, the attackers receive the payment in cryptocurrency, which can be difficult to trace. The attackers can then use the cryptocurrency to purchase goods or services anonymously, or they can convert it to fiat currency.

Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS): Some attackers offer RaaS, which is a business model where they sell the ransomware software to other cybercriminals. The buyers of the ransomware then use it to infect their own targets, and the profits are split between the attackers and the buyers.

Data theft: Some attackers use ransomware as a way to steal sensitive data from their victims before encrypting it. They then threaten to leak the data unless the victim pays the ransom. This approach is known as “double extortion” and can be more profitable than just demanding a ransom for the encrypted files.

Ransomware negotiations: Some attackers negotiate with their victims to reduce the ransom amount. This approach can be used to target larger organizations that are more likely to have the resources to pay a ransom but may also have more experience negotiating.

It’s important to note that paying the ransom does not guarantee that the attackers will provide the decryption key or that the files will be recovered. It’s also illegal to pay ransoms.

That said, many organizations that find themselves afflicted by malware quickly stop thinking in terms o the “greater good” and start doing a cost-benefit analysis, weighing the price of the ransom against the value of the encrypted data. According to research from Trend Micro, while 66 percent of companies say they would never pay a ransom as a point of principle, in practice 65 percent do pay the ransom when they get hit.

How To Protect Your System from Ransomware

There are a number of defensive steps you can take to prevent ransomware infection. These steps are a of course good security practices in general, so following them improves your defenses from all sorts of attacks:

  • Keep your operating system patched and up to date to ensure you have fewer vulnerabilities to exploit.
  • Don’t install unusable software or don’t give administrative privileges to unknown unless you know exactly what it is and what it does.
  • Install antivirus software like Norton 360, McAfee, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Avast Antivirus which detects malicious programs like ransomware, malware, viruses, and other threats as they arrive, and install whitelisting software, which prevents unauthorized applications from executing in the first place.
  • Back up your files, frequently and automatically! That won’t stop a malware attack, but it can make the damage caused by one much less significant.
  • Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments: Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown sources, and always verify the authenticity of emails and attachments before opening them.


Example of a recent high-profile ransomware attack of the worst offenders have been:
One recent high-profile ransomware attack occurred in May 2021, when the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies nearly half of the fuel to the U.S. East Coast, was hit by a ransomware attack. The attack was attributed to a Russian cybercriminal group known as DarkSide.

The attackers demanded a ransom of $4.4 million in Bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key to unlock the encrypted files. The Colonial Pipeline ultimately paid the ransom, although the U.S. Department of Justice was able to recover a significant portion of the payment through a seizure of the Bitcoin wallet used by the attackers.

The attack caused widespread fuel shortages and panic buying in several U.S. states and highlighted the potential impact of ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure.

This attack was just one of many high-profile ransomware attacks that have occurred in recent years, including attacks on the city of Atlanta, the global law firm DLA Piper, and the healthcare provider Universal Health Services.

In July 2021, the Kaseya ransomware attack occurred, which affected several managed service providers (MSPs) and their customers. Kaseya is a software company that provides IT management and remote monitoring services to MSPs, which in turn serve small and medium-sized businesses.

The attackers exploited a vulnerability in the Kaseya software to distribute ransomware to MSPs and their customers, encrypting their files and demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. The attack impacted up to 1,500 businesses worldwide and was one of the largest ransomware attacks in history.

The ransomware group REvil claimed responsibility for the attack and demanded a $70 million ransom payment. However, in late July 2021, the group disappeared from the internet, and it’s unclear if the ransom was paid or if the victims were able to recover their data without paying. The attack highlights the importance of securing third-party software and the potential impact of ransomware attacks on small and medium-sized businesses.

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