The Business Guide to Ransomware, Part 1, is our first post in this series of defensive information you need to know, that will absolutely save your company if you are one of the unfortunate ones forced into finding backup copies of your database after you’ve been successfully attacked. This truly is critical information for all companies who depend upon access to the data that runs all businesses.
More and more, ransomware has emerged as a major threat to individuals and businesses alike. Ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts data on infected systems, has become a lucrative option for cyber extortionists. When the malware is run, it locks victim’s files and allows criminals to demand payment to release them. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably well aware that ransomware is a hot topic in the news these days. Organizations of all types and sizes have been impacted, but small businesses can be particularly vulnerable to attacks; and ransomware is on the rise. In a recent study conducted by security software vendor McAfee Labs, researchers identified more than 4 million samples of ransomware in Q2 of 2015, including 1.2 million new samples. That compares with fewer than 1.5 million total samples in Q3 of 2013 (400,000 new). Ransomware is distributed in a variety of ways and is difficult to protect against because, just like the flu virus, it is constantly evolving. There are ways to protect your business against ransomware attacks. In these posts, you will learn how the malware is spread, the different types of ransomware proliferating today, and what you can do to avoid or recover from an attack. Hiding your head in the sand won’t work, because today’s ransom seekers play dirty. Make sure your organization is prepared.
There are a few dominant types, or families, of ransomware in existence. Each type has its own variants. It is expected that new families will continue to surface as time goes on. Historically, Microsoft Office, Adobe PDF and image files have been targeted, but McAfee predicts that additional types of files will become targets as ransomware continues to evolve. Most ransomware uses the AES algorithm to encrypt files, though some use alternative algorithms. To decrypt files, cyber extortionists typically request payment in the form of Bitcoins or online payment voucher services, such as Ukash or Paysafecard. The standard rate is about $500, though we’ve seen much higher. Cyber criminals behind ransomware campaigns typically focus their attacks in wealthy countries and cities where people and businesses can afford to pay the ransom. In recent months, we’ve seen repeated attacks on specific verticals, most notably healthcare.
In our next post, Part 2, we’ll continue on with this series, The Business Guide To Ransomware, by explaining how Ransomware is spread.
In the meantime
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