Ransomware has undoubtedly caused operational and financial losses over the years. The WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 hit hundreds of thousands of computers globally in 2017, resulting in damages of over $4 billion. The health care facilities infected with WannaCry had to postpone many critical functions and procedures. The following year, NotPetya/ExPetr ransomware attack caused even more chaos, to the tune of $10 billion in losses globally.
Since then, ransomware threats are becoming more dangerous. The notorious DarkSide ransomware group shut down Colonial Pipeline, forcing gas prices to rise amidst shortages. The gang even went after Toshiba in Japan, stealing confidential data. Recently, Ireland’s health service was also hit by this malware.
You might be wondering how ransomware works. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that threat actors use to encrypt, delete, or corrupt a target’s data or entire systems. After successfully using ransomware to lock a target’s systems, a threat actor usually demands a ransom, often in the shape of cryptocurrency, for the following reasons:
- Cryptocurrency is usually untraceable.
- Victims can pay cryptocurrency online independently.
- The value of cryptocurrency is generally on an upwards trajectory.
- Hackers can use cryptocurrency to fund other illegal activities on shady online marketplaces like the dark web.
- More legitimate businesses are accepting cryptocurrency.
Why Do Cybercriminals Prefer Ransomware?
Hackers nowadays like to use ransomware instead of other malware like viruses, worms, spyware, and more for profitability. While viruses and worms can cause chaos, they aren’t particularly lucrative. Spyware can also be valuable, but it may require more skill and patience to use than a successful ransomware attack.
Why Should We All Be Worried About Ransomware?
We should be worried about ransomware because cybercriminals are growing bolder. More essential services are targets of ransomware attacks every day. One day, a team of hackers may cripple an airport, putting lives in danger and closing a major artery in the world’s economy.
We should also be concerned because the Internet wasn’t created with security in mind. Threat actors could start exploiting vulnerabilities in our global system with progressively more sophisticated attacks, and we could be at their mercy.
Finally, we should be anxious about malware because ransomware groups may start to double encrypt data more frequently. This means that after a company pays a huge bounty, they learn that there’s a second layer on encoding in a side-by-side encryption attack, causing financial issues and more delays.
What Can Organizations Do to Fight Back Against Ransomware Groups?
Companies need to use a thorough and proactive endpoint detection and response system that remediates malware like ransomware, rolls back any damage and uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to catch threats that bypass signature-based technology. Good security tools should also stop spyware, Trojans, rootkits, backdoors, viruses, brute force attacks, and more.
Additionally, organizations must train employees to recognize and react to social engineering attacks like spear phishing. Many hackers consider an organization’s staff to be its weakest link. They trick them into installing ransomware on company systems. With ransomware threats escalating, organizations need the right tools and training to stay one step ahead.