Ransomware is malware that is designed to encrypt the victim’s critical information at a cost of ransom. In these attacks, the attacker encrypts the critical data of the organization or the user so that the victim couldn’t access the databases, files, and applications without paying a certain amount of ransom. Basically, a ransom is a monetary value that is asked by the attacker to decrypt the victim data which is usually asked in a Cryptocurrency because of its anonymity. The ransomware is designed to propagate over all the network, specific databases, and file servers which has the capability to freeze or paralyze the whole organization. Ransomware is a constantly evolving threat that causes huge damage and expenses for many users, business organizations, governmental organizations. Ransomware can be classified into two categories:
- Locker ransomware
In this type of ransomware, the attackers block the basic functions of the computer and don’t allow the user to access the computer until a certain amount of ransom is paid. This ransomware attack makes the computer inoperable. Moreover, Locker ransomware doesn’t affect the critical files that are present in the computer.
- Crypto ransomware
This is the type of ransomware that encrypts the critical information of the users but doesn’t affect the basic functions of the computer. In this attack, the attackers encrypt the critical files of the user and ask for a certain amount of ransom in exchange for the key to decrypt the information.
Most ransomware uses asymmetric encryption which is cryptography that uses pair of keys to encrypt and decrypt the data. The two pairs of keys public-private are uniquely generated by the attackers. The private key is used to decrypt the files that are usually stored in the attacker’s server in exchange for a certain amount of ransom. The encrypted files can’t be decrypted by the victim without the key. There are various kinds of ransomware that are developed according to the need of the attackers. Normally, the ransomware is transmitted through various spam emails, or the attackers target the users. An attack vector is needed by malware to establish its existence on an endpoint. After the existence of the malware is established in a computer, the malware will stay on the computer until the task is completed. After the malware is established properly, then the ransomware will execute a malicious binary on the victim’s computer. The binary will then look for valuable files, for example, Microsoft Words documents, Images, Databases, and many more. Moreover, the malware will also infect the network and exploits other computers and the entire organization’s system.
The ransomware attack is a critical problem that can cause many problems to an individual and an organization due to which prevention so be a must. Some of the preventive measures to defend from Ransomware are:
- Data backup
In Ransomware attacks, the attackers would decrypt all the critical information of the victim and then ask for the ransom in exchange for the information. If the ransom isn’t paid in the given time period, then the attackers might delete all the important information of the victim which can cause a huge loss for the organization or the individual. Thus, the important data should be backed up in a hard drive, cloud storage such as One drive, Google Drive, iCloud, and other secondary storage options. So, when the computer gets ransomware attacks at that time the victim can wipe all the computer data and then reinstall all the important files from the backup. This will help the victim to protect the data and stop the victim to pay ransom to the attackers in exchange for the data.
b. Secure backups
The storage devices that are used to store all the important information shouldn’t be easily accessible for modification or deletion from the system. Ransomware will look for a backup for the data and encrypt the data or delete the data so that the data can’t be retrieved again by the victim. Thus, the backup devices should be kept secure from the system to prevent encryption and deletion of the backup files.
- Use the latest security software
The computer should always be up to date to be protected from various types of malware. If the computer isn’t up to date, then the chance of a malware attack will increase. The up-to-date security software will help the user to stay safe from malware attacks on their computer and prevent huge losses.
- Practice safe surfing and use of secure networks
While surfing on the internet the user should always visit a trusted website and shouldn’t click on unknown sites. Many unknown sites are the main path for the transmission of malware which can attack the computer and encrypt or delete all the data. Similarly, a secure network should be used in order to prevent malware attacks. Public networks are also the main source of malware attacks so VPN should be used while using the public network.
These are some of the methods that can be used to prevent Ransomware attacks. If the victim suspects a ransomware attack, then some of the responses can be done such as:
- Isolate the infected device
The device that is infected by the ransomware attack should be isolated from all the networks, storage devices, and other devices so that the malware wouldn’t be transmitted from one device to another device and cause huge damage to the entire system. So, when the computer is suspected to get a ransomware attack at that time the infected device should have remained isolated to prevent the transmission of the malware.
- Stop the spread
The ransomware has the nature to move quickly and can be transmitted from one device to another device quickly. All the sources of transmission such as Networks should be identified and closed so that the other device won’t be infected by the malware. If the network is closed, then the spread of the malware can be stopped.
- Locate Patient zero
When the source of the infection is identified then the infected device can be easily tracked. As many ransomware attacks are done through email links and attachments which require end-user action. So, interacting with the person who was the initial source of the ransomware attack can be extremely helpful to solve the problem.
- Identify the ransomware
Identifying the ransomware is also another task that should be done. There are various types of ransomware so identifying the type of ransomware will help to solve the tackle from the ransomware attack. There are two famous types of ransomware: Locker ransomware and Crypto-Ransomware.
- Report the ransomware to authorities
Certain authorities should be reported after ransomware attacks the computer. The victim should contact law enforcement because ransomware attacks are against the law and the authorities could help to solve the problem of ransomware attacks. So, after you get victim from the ransomware always report to the authorities.
Hence, these are some of the responses that a victim can do after a Ransomware attack.