What is Ransomware In Cyber Security ?

In a world full of digitalization and electronics, it makes our life easy and also time effective. Due to which there has been a vast landscape of cybersecurity threats, one of which is known for its insidious tactics and devastating consequences: ransomware. It leaves individuals and organizations at its mercy. In this blog we will learn about what ransomware is and also how to keep ourselves protected from it.

DEFINITION

Ransomware is a malware or a virus type of software program designed to deny a user or an organization access to their files or their computer itself. In order to gain back access to one’s computers they need to pay a sum of money, known as ransome. This type of attack has paved its way too many malicious attackers, with them deploying sophisticated techniques to infiltrate the system and encrypt the valuable data.
Ransomware has quickly become the most prominent and visible type of malware. Recent ransomware attacks have impacted hospitals’ ability to provide crucial services, crippled public services in cities, and caused significant damage to various organizations.

HOW DOES RANSOMWARE WORK?

There are 3 main processes for this malware to work, that is, first gain access to the target’s computer, next second encrypt the data in that target’s computer with your style of encryption, last but not the least demand ransom from the target’s owner. These may seem simple when we read but they have their own difficulties.

Step-1: Gaining Access To The Target’s Device

In this step we have to basically hack the target’s device and try to gain access to or unlock the device. There are many methods to perform this task like phishing, infection vectors, etc. For example, another popular ransomware infection vector takes advantage of services such as the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). With RDP, an attacker who has stolen or guessed an employee’s login credentials can use them to authenticate to and remotely access a computer within the enterprise network. With this access, the attacker can directly download the malware and execute it on the machine under their control.

Step-2: Data Encryption

Now that we have gained access we have to encrypt the data so that the user may not have access to it. Since encryption functionality is built into an operating system, this simply involves accessing files, encrypting them with an attacker-controlled key, and replacing the originals with the encrypted versions.

Step-3: Demanding of Ransom

Once all the above steps are completed then the attacker will demand for some ransom from the target. Generally they demand ransom in terms of cryptocurrency rather then normal plain bank transactions or like the old style bags of money, because now-a-days crypto is the most secure and expensive ransom one can get. If the ransom is paid, the ransomware operator will either provide a copy of the private key used to protect the symmetric encryption key or a copy of the symmetric encryption key itself. This information can be entered into a decryptor program (also provided by the cybercriminal) that can use it to reverse the encryption and restore access to the user’s files.
While these three core steps exist in all ransomware variants, different ransomware can include different implementations or additional steps. For example, ransomware variants like Maze perform files scanning, registry information, and data theft before data encryption, and the WannaCry ransomware scans for other vulnerable devices to infect and encrypt.

THE IMPACT OF RANSOMWARE

The consequences of a successful ransomware attack can be severe:

DEFENDING AGAINST RANSOMWARE

So now that we have come across what ransomware is, let’s learn how to protect ourselves from it.
These are just a few of the ways to protect now what if you were attacked and you want to remove it. The best way is to inform higher authorities and then go to the nearby police-station and place a complaint. Till then you have few steps to do while the system is under attack:
1. Quarantine the system, leave it on and don’t perform any activities in it.
2. Create a Backup for your files, in another storage device or system that is not connected with the infected system.
3. Check for decryptors to decrypt the files
4. Ask for help.
5. Wipe and restore all the data into your computer freshly, but before doing that do a factory restart on your computer.

CONCLUSION

In the end we have learnt that ransomware is a dangerous malware in cybersecurity. It can create havoc on individuals and organizations alike. By understanding its operations and the respective defense mechanisms we can collectively work towards minimizing the impacts of these malicious attacks. Vigilance, education, and a commitment to cybersecurity best practices are the keys to staying one step ahead in the ongoing battle against ransomware or any other malware or virus.