Understanding and Protecting Against Ransomware Attacks

Damage caused by ransomware attacks reached $20 Billion in the year 2020, doubling from $11 Billion in 2019, and is still getting worse. The number of organizations targeted is swelling rapidly each month rendering enormous impacts on victims who had to suffer the loss of worth millions of dollars. 

Only a few companies can bear such a serious loss while many others decline till they eventually come to an end. Once attacked, it becomes too late for implementing protective measures. 

If you haven’t applied precautionary measures yet, it’s high time for you to start doing so before you become prey to one of the deadliest IT security attacks of recent history.  

To initiate the prevention process it is necessary for you to first get fully aware of what ransomware attacks are. Let’s get on with it for understanding and protecting against ransomware attacks

What is a Ransomware Attack and How Does it Work?

Ransomware is a form of malicious software that encrypts all important files once entering its targeted device. The manufactures of such software then demand ransom from the files’ owners and hold them in the same encrypted form until and unless the ransom is received. 

Ransomware attacks have been one of the most severe security threats made in the history of IT. They enter the infected device as trojans, which is received manipulated in the form of normal software that is downloaded intentionally or sometimes even unintentionally by the user. 

As soon as this malware executes, it initiates encrypting all the important files along with displaying a message telling the victim that their data would only be accessible if a ransom is settled with the hackers. 

A delay in paying the asked amount can result in a rise in the value of ransom wanted by the attackers or even deletion of your valuable data. Also, ransom amount is only paid in the form of digital currency like bitcoin so that the attackers can not be traced easily. 

Types of Ransomware Attacks

There are two main types of ransomware: Locker ransomware and Crypto ransomware.

The Locker ransomware does block you from your files but in a pretty different way. What attackers do in such a case is that they prevent you from getting into your device once they have successfully accessed it. The attackers then demand a ransom amount from you to let you re-enter your device. 

On the split hand, Crypto ransomware makes use of the usual technique. Cyber thieves in this case enter your system and encrypt all files that contain valuable data. The victim then has to pay the asked ransom to decrypt the files in return. 

In both cases, targeted victims are usually left without any other choice to recover their data. That’s why it is very important to take strong steps to prevent your system from undergoing such cyber attacks or to recover if it has unfortunately fallen into one.

Best Protective Measures Against Ransomware Attacks  

Listed below are more than a few precautionary steps that you should be taking before your data falls into wrong hands:

  1. Regular Backups

The first and foremost measure is backing your data frequently and regularly. Backing up your data will save your precious and valuable information at a safe place, limiting the damage caused by ransomware attacks.

In case of any such threat, one can easily restore valuable pieces of information without paying huge sums of digital money to attackers.

  1. Update Immediately

The next step is to keep a strict routine to check for new software updates and always keep your operating systems complete. Almost every time a software update is launched in the market, it usually modifies all security aspects of that software.

Therefore, it is suggested to keep the automatic update feature of your devices always functional and to check for updates regularly. It is better to fill up all the software vulnerabilities via updating as soon as possible. 

  1. Beware of Scam Emails

Another crucial step to safeguard your device from allowing any malicious activity inside is to look for unusual or fishy-looking emails sent to your mailbox. Such emails look very legitimate but are traps that compel you to download or sometimes redirect you to a bogus site. 

  1. Disable AutoRun 

Disabling the autorun capabilities for all devices on board will also prove to be a significant step toward pushing away a ransomware attack on time. Taking this measure will prevent all software including malware from being able to spread its infections autonomously within the whole system.

  1. Deploy Security Tools as Soon as Possible 

There is plenty of software and affordable tools to help your system combat malware that causes huge loss of worth millions of dollars. The smallest and the earliest possible step you can take is to download a firewall or antivirus software as they are equipped to block known threats and malicious programs from a system.

To further protect your system, you can also install ransomware protection tools that are specially designed for fighting ransomware attacks.

  1. Disable Macros

It has been found out that the root cause behind the spread of more than a few cases of ransomware infections was an infected Microsoft Office document that contained hostile macros. Such macros then further enable malicious software to be executed. 

Disabling these macros by default can assist in halting the spread of infection even if the user accesses an infected document.

  1. Disable Remote Desktop Services

Halting this feature that enables users to control their device over a network connection will prevent unauthorized accessors from getting to your files and devices remotely. 

Conclusion 

To conclude, for every organization or even end-users, education and awareness play the most significant role in protecting. By being aware of all the possible attacks and the counter-tactics, one can successfully safeguard valuable chunks of data. 

Where understanding and protecting against ransomware attacks is important for yourself, we also recommend you educate your fellows or employees so that it assists all of you in keeping up with the modern-day IT security threats.