The Internet creates miracles but also hides risks. Ransomware attacks are so crazy in the Internet world that it destroys everything you’ve created through time. However, there’s still something you can do to prevent ransomware attacks.
What is Ransomware and How do Ransomware Attacks Occur?
As one of the advanced cyberattacks, ransomware has been one of the biggest risks global security teams must face up with. Ransomware features such a wide domain that it ranges from small businesses to tech giants, from the state systems to government networks.
It’s not difficult to understand what a ransomware attack means. If malware programmed to target a ransomware attack is downloaded on a device, all the data on the device will be disturbed or deleted with a message forcing the data owner to pay for the decryption or recovery.
The ransomware attack has been regarded as Top 1 possible cyberattacks in 2021. Although ransomware is easy to understand, it’s dramatically destructive. Ransomware allows hackers to steal and control the data belonging to an individual or organization so that economic benefit can be squeezed from the data owner.
To move backward, how does a device suffer from malware causing ransomware attacks? Based on ransomware email or messages generally. Malware is usually rooted in some links and the device will possibly get infected by a ransomware virus as the link is clicked.
Another popular way to spread ransomware virus is through Trojan virus that masking the ransomware into online legal software that tends to be trusted and installed on the device with ransomware rooted inside.
Notorious Ransomware Attack Examples in Recent Years
Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack
The Colonial Pipeline running from Houston to New Jersey, supplying the East Coast with 45 percent of its fuel, was taken offline Friday after a hacker group known as DarkSide infiltrated the Georgia-based company’s servers and encrypted its data, demanding a fee to restore access in what is known as a “ransomware” attack. It also stole a copy of the data, possibly to later release it publicly unless Colonial paid an additional fee.
Then Colonial Pipeline said that it was the victim of a cyberattack involving ransomware and had “proactively” halted all pipeline operations as a result. The 5,500-mile pipeline system transports approximately 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to its website, and runs from Texas to New Jersey.
The WannaCry ransomware attack was a worldwide cyberattack aroused in May 2017 based on the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm that targeted the encrypted data of the Microsoft Windows operating system. The WannaCry ransomware attack called for ransomware payback of cryptocurrency so that it was extremely difficult to trace the hackers back.
Around 200,000 computers across 150 countries around the world were infected by WannaCry and the four most affected countries and regions in the world are Russia, Ukraine, India and Taiwan.
Why Ransomware Attacks Can Always Win?
Ransomware may cause huge destruction to organizations or companies, leading to extraordinary losses of productivity and the economy. Once files and data are stolen, it means that hundreds of hours’ work are wasted or all customers’ data will be possibly abused and fail to be returned unless money is paid. Then, why exactly ransomware attacks can always win?
Humans are usually curious.
The essential reason why ransomware can be rooted in a device is because it’s been infected by the malware leading to a ransomware attack as a malicious link is clicked. Based on a phishing email, hackers “seduce” people to click the malicious links attached to the email or message. Generally speaking, the email system is regarded as the weakest part of cybersecurity infrastructure for most enterprises. Hackers viciously attract users to open malicious files and attachments through phishing emails.
Then, why users will definitely click them? Because of curiosity or a once-in-a-life opportunity to get a reward. Normally, such malicious phishing emails carry messages telling them what a prize gift they’ve got.
Employees have low cybersecurity awareness.
Most of the time, hackers achieve their vicious goal just through individuals in a company, which is especially true when employees have low cybersecurity awareness. They tend to take all their clicks for granted so that hackers’ targets will be easily met. Therefore, the more employees there are in an organization, the riskier the organization will be to be infected by ransomware virus because each employee may access towards ransomware risk.
There’s no cybersecurity solution.
With time going by, ransomware hackers won’t disappear or downgrade but keep improving in ransomware developing and “making up” to let more Internet users believe they are nobody and harmless. However, most organizations just stay at where they did, refusing to prepare strong cybersecurity solutions to fight against ransomware hackers because the solutions usually cost a fortune and are used with complexities, which makes it difficult for the IT team to persuade their organization to purchase such a cybersecurity solution for “possible” disasters. Their fluke mind tells them it’s unnecessary to do so because they may not be the “lucky dog”.
Software or hardware is out of date.
Apart from the absence of cybersecurity solutions, some organizations usually stay at their comfort zone forever, without upgrading their software or hardware. As time goes by, more bugs will be found by hackers that are able to easily hack into the devices. That is the cause of the WannaCry ransomware attack.
How to Prevent Ransomware?
Both individuals and organizations tend to be infected by ransomware viruses if no solutions are made to support cybersecurity. Therefore, everyone needs tips to protect against ransomware.
Tips for Individuals to Avoid Ransomware
Do Think Before Clicks
Never click any unsafe or unknown links provided by spam emails or unknown sites. Any of your links will possibly lead ransomware to be automatically downloaded and installed on your device without your knowledge, which will make your device infected. Never believe your tremendous luck.
Never Share Your Personal Information Online
If you receive calls, texts or emails from untrusted sources requiring you to provide personal information, never reply. Some cybercriminals start a ransomware attack with your personal information collected so that custom phishing emails will be sent to you.
Never Open Any Attachment in Suspicious Email
Ransomware viruses can be sent to your device through email attachments. So it’s a good idea not to open any attachment in an email to stop your device from being infected by a ransomware virus.
Never Use Unknown USB Memory Disk
Don’t connect any USB memory disk to your device unless you’ve been quite clear about its source. Internet hackers may get the disk infected so as to easily root malware in a device.
Keep Operating System and Applications Timely Upgraded
Upgrading your applications and operating system is beneficial to protect your device from being infected by malware. During the process of upgrading, make sure the latest version has been downloaded from the official source so that cybercriminals won’t get a bug to infect your device.
Use Official Downloading Source Only
To minimize the downloading risk of ransomware infection, never download software or files from unknown sites. Use testified and trustworthy sites to download instead. Pay attention to the beginning words of each link. Use “HTTPS” to replace “HTTP” to increase your cybersecurity level. Get and install apps from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
Use a VPN When Using Public WiFi
Securely using public WiFi is an important measure to avoid being infected by a ransomware virus. Your device is more vulnerable when public WiFi is used. Using a VPN for public WiFi protects you from any prying eyes and data breaches.
Tips for Organizations to Avoid Ransomware
Use Strong and Trust-worthy Cybersecurity Solutions
To effectively protect an organization from a ransomware attack, it’s important to have a strong “field” that should be installed on the endpoint device so as to stop any malware from infecting your device and system. Such a cybersecurity solution enables IT, administrators, to release warnings when devices are threatened and remind them to upgrade the system at the first moment.
Increase the Security of Email System
Now that the email system is the most vulnerable for an organization, it’s of top necessity to strengthen the security of the organization’s email system to stop threats from being infected through email attachments or malicious links.
Improve Employees’ Cybersecurity Awareness through Numerous Methods
Employees are also the leading security risk for organizations. Organization administrators should try to improve employees’ cybersecurity awareness based on different methods like cybersecurity awareness training, etc. Let them know what exactly the potential ransomware virus looks like and what they mustn’t do when using the Internet no matter in the office or at home.
Learn to Backup and Recover Data
If your organization has already been attacked by ransomware, the optimal solution is to recover data as quickly as possible. The top method to restore data is to backup data from different locations, which means all your data will be scattered to different places. If unfortunately ransomware attack occurs, at least partial data can be protected against it.
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