Category: Ransomware

The Emerging Way Around 2FA

The Emerging Way Around 2FA


The Emerging Way Around 2FA

With individuals and companies understanding that security and phishing risks are rising, the implementation of 2FA (2 Factor Authentication) has become increasingly more prevalent. 2FA allows users to add a level of security by adding another “factor” besides their usernames and passwords that they must enter correctly to gain access to their account. Typically, 2FA is enabled as a security feature on more high-risk accounts such as finance applications or email, but as the threat increases, it’s becoming utilized on more sites and apps.

As technology progresses, the social engineering capability does as well. Instead of a standard phishing attack where you receive an email or text message on a phone number with a dummy link, click the dummy link, then enter your (very real) banking information. The hacker then takes that information, tries it on the real banking site, and gains access to your bank account. You can read more about how phishing works here.

As 2 Factor Authentication becomes more prominent, the depth of these phishing-style attacks also increases. Attacks are now being sent through text messages making it more difficult to sense their legitimacy. See a Chase website scam example below:


The way these attacks are conducted is as follows:

Step 1: You’ll receive a text message like the one above from a “trusted” institution like Chase or Bank of America, explaining some reason why you need to access your online banking account or credit card.

Step 2: You click the link leading you to a dummy online banking page that looks identical to a Chase or Bank of America Website.

Step 3: The website asks you to “reset” your password asking you to enter your old username and passwords and then your new one.

Step 4: Within 15-30 seconds, that information is plugged into the actual Chase of BOA website, but you have 2FA enabled.

Step 5: You get a real text from the financial institution asking you to input a code on their site (the one the hackers are currently logging into); however, the dummy site also asks for the code.

Step 6: You input the 2 Factor Authentication code into the dummy site, and hackers now have your passwords and 2FA code and have gained full access to your account.

Once a hacker gains access via 2FA, it’s pretty much over for any information behind that wall, they can use the same technology that got them in there to keep you out. Typically, by the time you’re able to allow the company to grant you access to the page, they’ve already done what they needed to do.


The Most Common 2FA Bypass Attacks

Two-factor authentication (2FA) stands as a crucial defense against unauthorized access, but it’s not impervious to attacks. Let’s delve into some of the most common methods used to bypass 2FA security:

1. Phishing Attacks: Despite 2FA, phishing remains a prevalent threat. Attackers trick users into providing both their credentials and the 2FA code, granting them access.

2. Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacks: In an MITM attack, the attacker intercepts communication between the user and the authentication system, capturing the 2FA code in transit.

3. SIM Swapping: Attackers convince the victim’s mobile carrier to transfer their phone number to a new SIM card under the attacker’s control. This enables them to intercept the 2FA code sent via SMS.

4. Credential Stuffing: Attackers use previously breached username-password pairs to gain access to accounts. If users have reused passwords across multiple accounts, even 2FA may not stop unauthorized access.

5. Social Engineering: Attackers manipulate individuals into revealing sensitive information, including 2FA codes, through deception or coercion.

Understanding these common 2FA bypass techniques is crucial for implementing effective security measures and mitigating the risks associated with them. Vigilance, education, and the adoption of additional security layers beyond 2FA are essential to bolstering the overall security posture.


How to spot a potential 2FA phishing attempt?

There are key factors when it comes to spotting a fraudulent message, much like emails or text messages. If a text contains the following: Misspellings, links that don’t seem consistent with the brand that’s reaching out, broken English, and sometimes improper wording.

These are effective because you could easily miss the aforementioned criteria if you’re not paying close attention. A text message differs from an email because no name, signature, font options, colors, etc., can tell you different things about an email. With text messaging, you have a single font and color, so all they have to do is get the wording and verbiage correct.

These attacks are so widespread that throughout the summer of 2021, the number of phishing URLs designed to impersonate Chase’s website jumped by 300%, says security firm Cyren. That speaks to not only the shift in types of phishing but the effectiveness overall.


How you can protect your account?

Protect your account using 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) by adding an extra layer of security. After entering your password, you must verify your identity with a second factor, like an OTP Authentication sent to your phone or email. Various 2FA authentication methods include authenticator apps, biometric scans, or hardware tokens. What is Passkey, it’s a secure and unique password, that can also enhance your protection. By implementing 2FA, you significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts.


What to do to avoid falling victim?

Overall, these campaigns are meant to deceive; attackers know how to trick us. Attackers consider dozens of factors to make us believe the message we have received is legitimate. Here are a few ways you can help yourself not become a victim:

Links – Never click links or dial phone numbers in emails or text messages. When possible, go to a company’s website or mobile app to ensure you’re accessing the right information and not getting targeted for a phishing attack.

Second Opinion – A second opinion thwarts more attacks than you’d expect. The second set of eyes on a questionable message or email is a proven way to make sure that someone else can see the same potential inaccuracies that you are. Often times others have been approached with similar phishing style messages so it’s good to show a friend or family member if you receive something you think is suspicious.

Slow Down – This is a large part of the attacker’s advantage, we’re all so engaged in our lives that sometimes move too fast and don’t ask simple questions like “why is this website link different?” or “why doesn’t this email address have the proper suffix?”. Attackers prey on our ability to trust bigger, very reputable corporations and follow instructions given to us because of their proven trustworthiness. In the end, just slow down and look into anything you receive that regards a high priority account before inputting username and passwords.

Overall, we have to be vigilant and use several security feature when it comes to unfamiliar texts or emails we receive. It’s especially important to help older friends and family members who may not be technologically savvy because they make up a large part of the victims of scams like this one among many others. If something doesn’t look or feel right about a text or email, odds are, it probably isn’t.

Take the help of a partner to enable 2FA and enhance cybersecurity.

What varieties of viruses and ransomware are there?

What are the different types of viruses


What are the different types of viruses and ransomware?

In this digital age, viruses and ransomware are becoming a growing security concern for computer users. The threat of malicious software is real, and understanding the different types of viruses and ransomware is essential to protect yourself and your data. There are four main types of viruses, each with its own characteristics and potential harm. These include Trojans, bots, malware, and ransomware. With some basic knowledge, computer users can better protect themselves against these malicious programs. Knowing the differences between these types of viruses and their capabilities is the first step to keeping your computer safe and secure.


A computer virus is a malicious code or program written to alter how a computer operates and is designed to spread from one computer to another. A virus operates by inserting or attaching itself to a legitimate program or document that supports macros to execute its code. In the process, a virus can potentially cause unexpected or damaging effects, such as harming the system software by corrupting or destroying data.

Two types of viruses causing headaches for security experts are multipartite virus and polymorphic virus. Multipartite viruses leverage multiple attack vectors to infiltrate systems, while polymorphic viruses cunningly change their code to evade detection. Understanding and defending against these sophisticated adversaries is crucial to safeguarding our digital world.

A macro virus is a malicious code quickly gaining popularity amongst hackers. It is a type of virus that replicates itself by modifying files containing macro language, which can replicate the virus. These can be extremely dangerous as they can spread from one computer to another and can cause damage by corrupting data or programs, making them run slower or crash altogether. Users need to take preventive measures against the threat of viruses, as they can eventually cause serious damage.


A computer worm is a type of malware that spreads copies of itself from computer to computer and even operating system. A worm can replicate itself without any human interaction and does not need to attach itself to a software program to cause damage.


The idea behind ransomware, a form of malicious software, is simple: Lock and encrypt a victim’s computer or device data, then demand a ransom to restore access.

In many cases, the victim must pay the cybercriminal within a set amount of time or risk losing access forever. And since malware attacks are often deployed by cyber thieves, paying the ransom doesn’t ensure access will be restored.

Ransomware holds your personal files hostage, keeping you from your documents, photos, and financial information. Those files are still on your computer, but the malware has encrypted your device, making the data stored on your computer or mobile device inaccessible.

Who are the targets of ransomware attacks?

Ransomware can spread across the Internet without specific targets since it’s one of the most common types of computer virus. But this file-encrypting malware’s nature means that cybercriminals can also choose their targets. This targeting ability enables cybercriminals to go after those who can — and are more likely to — pay larger ransoms.


A Trojan horse, or Trojan, is a type of malicious code or software that looks legitimate but can take control of your computer. A Trojan is designed to damage, disrupt, steal, or inflict some other harmful action on your data or network.

A Trojan acts like a bona fide application or file to trick you. It seeks to deceive you into loading and executing the malware on your device. Once installed, a Trojan can perform the action it was designed for.

A Trojan is sometimes called a Trojan or a Trojan horse virus, but that’s a misnomer. A Trojan cannot. A user has to execute Trojans. Even so, Trojan malware and Trojan virus are often used interchangeably.


Bots, or Internet robots, are also known as spiders, crawlers, and web bots. While they may be utilized to perform repetitive jobs, such as indexing a search engine, they often come in the form of malware. Malware bots are used to gain total control over a computer.

Bots, or Internet robots, are also known as spiders, crawlers, and web bots. While they may be utilized to perform repetitive jobs, such as indexing a search engine, they often come in the form of malware. Malware bots are used to gain total control over a computer.

The Good

One of the typical “good” bots used is to gather information. Bots in such guises are called web crawlers. Another “good” use is automatic interaction with instant messaging, instant relay chat, or assorted other web interfaces. Dynamic interaction with websites is yet another way bots are used for positive purposes.

The Bad

Malicious bots are defined as self-propagating malware that infects its host and connects back to a central server(s). The server functions as a “command and control center” for a botnet or a network of compromised computers and similar devices. Malicious bots have the “worm-like ability to self-propagate” and can also:

  • Gather passwords
  • Obtain financial information
  • Relay spam
  • Open the back doors on the infected computer


Malware is an abbreviated form of “malicious software.” This is software specifically designed to gain access to or damage a computer, usually without the owner’s knowledge. There are various types of malware, including spyware, ransomware, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, adware, or any malicious code that infiltrates a computer.

Each type of malware has its own purpose and potential impacts, making it important to be aware of the different types of malware. We can protect ourselves from these malicious software threats with the right knowledge and resources.

Generally, the software is considered malware based on the creator’s intent rather than its actual features. Malware creation is rising due to money that can be made through organized Internet crime. Originally malware was created for experiments and pranks, but eventually, it was used for vandalism and destruction of targeted machines. Today, much malware is created to make a profit from forced advertising (adware), stealing sensitive information (spyware), spreading email spam or child pornography (zombie computers), or extorting money (ransomware).

The best protection from malware — whether ransomware, bots, browser hijackers, or other malicious software — continues to be the usual preventive advice: be careful about what email attachments you open, be cautious when surfing by staying away from suspicious websites, and install and maintain an updated, quality antivirus program.


Spyware is unwanted software that infiltrates your computing device, stealing your internet usage data and sensitive information. Spyware is classified as a type of malware — malicious software designed to gain access to or damage your computer, often without your knowledge. Spyware gathers your personal information and relays it to advertisers, data firms, or external users.

Spyware is used for many purposes. Usually, it aims to track and sell your internet usage data, capture your credit card or bank account information, or steal your personal identity. How? Spyware monitors your internet activity, tracking your login and password information, and spying on your sensitive information.

Evading Rise of Ransomware

Evading Rise of Ransomware


Evading Rise of Ransomware

Security can be termed as protection from unwanted harm or unwanted resources. Information security protects the data from unauthorized users or access. It can also be termed as an important asset for any organization which plays a vital role. In earlier days it was difficult to identify ransomware before it enters or attacks the user’s system. These attacks would damage the mail servers, databases, expert systems, and confidential systems. In this paper, we propose the analysis and detection of ransomware which will have a major impact on business continuity.


Lately, with the extensive usage of the internet, cybercriminals are rapidly growing targeting naïve users thru threats and malware to generate a ransom. Currently, this ransomware has become the most agonizing malware. Ransomware comprises of two. They are locker ransomware and crypto-ransomware. Of them, crypto-ransomware is the most familiar type that aims to encrypt users‟ data and locker ransomware prevent the users from accessing their data by locking the system or device. Both types of a ransomware demand a ransom payable via electronic mode for restoring the access of the data and system. Locker ransomware claims fee from the victims in terms of fine for downloading illegal content as per their fake law enforcement notice. Crypto ransomware has a time limit that warns the victims to pay the ransom within the given time else the data will be lost forever.

Spreading of ransomware is possible by the following methods:

  1. Phishy e-mail messages with malicious file attachments;
  2. Software patches that download the threat into the victim’s machine whilst working online.

Spreading of Ransomware Attack

  1. Phishing emails: The most common way of spreading Ransomware is thru phishing emails or spam emails. These mails include a .exe file or an attachment, which when opened launches ransomware on the victim’s machine.
  2. Exploit kits: these are the compromised websites planned by the attackers for malicious use. These exploit kits search for vulnerable website visitors to download the ransomware onto their machine.


The vulnerability can be termed as unsafe or unauthorized access by an intruder into an unprotected or exposed network. Common vulnerabilities are worms, viruses, spyware applications, spam emails, etc. Vulnerability Assessment is the most important technique that is conducted to rate the spontaneous attacks or risks that occur in the system thereby affecting the business continuity of an organization. Vulnerability assessment has many steps such as

  1. Vulnerability analysis
  2. Scope of the vulnerability assessment
  3. Information gathering
  4. Vulnerability identification
  5. Information Analysis and
  6. Planning

Assessment Tools

Vulnerability assessment which is nothing but testing can be carried out by best-known tools which are called vulnerability assessment tools. These tools are used to mitigate the identified vulnerabilities such as investigating unethical access to copyrighted materials, policy violations of the organizations‟ etc. The red alert issue about the vulnerability assessment is that it warns us about the vulnerability before the system is compromised and helps us in avoiding or preventing the attack. These vulnerability assessment tools can also be categorized as proactive security measures of an organization. The major step of the vulnerability assessment is the accurate testing of a system. The major step of the vulnerability assessment is the accurate testing of a system. If overlooked, it might lead to either false positives or false negatives. False-positive can be presumed as quicksand where we can’t find what we are searching for. False-negative can be presumed as a black hole where we don’t know what we want to search for. False positives can be rated as a significant level in testing.

Common Vulnerability Assessment Tools

  • Vulnerabilities are the most crucial part of information systems. An error in configuration or violation of a policy might compromise a network in an organization. These attacks can be for personal gain or corporate gain.
  • Not only the local area networks but also the websites are also more susceptible to attacks where the systems can be exploited either by the insiders or outsiders of an organization.
  • Some of the very commonly used vulnerability assessment tools are listed below:
    • Wireshark
    • Nmap
    • Metasploit
    • OpenVAS
    • AirCrack

Limitations of Existing Vulnerability Assessment Tools

The concept of false positives is the dangerous and horrendous limitation of the existing vulnerability assessment tools. These false positives require lots of testing and study for assessing the nature of the errors that occurred, which is a very expensive and time taking process. All the identification-related information mostly leads to false positives.

Penetration Testing

  • Penetration Testing also called as Pen Test is an attempt to assess a malicious activity or any security breach by exploiting the vulnerabilities.
  • It includes the testing of the networks, security applications and processes that are involved in the network.
  • Penetration testing is done to improve the performance of the system by testing the system’s efficiency.

Top 10 Ransomware Attacks 2021

Top 10 Ransomware Attacks 2021


Top 10 Ransomware Attacks


Ransomware Definition

Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software) that threatens to publish or prevent access to data or a computer system, typically by encrypting it. The victim is faced with the ultimatum of either paying a ransom or risking the publication or permanent loss of their data or access to their system. The ransom demand usually involves a deadline. If the victim doesn’t pay on time, the data is permanently lost, or the ransom is increased.

Attacks using ransomware are all too frequent these days. It has affected both large firms in North America and Europe. Cybercriminals will target any customer or company, and victims come from every sector of the economy.

The FBI and other government agencies, as does the No More Ransom Project, advise against paying the ransom to prevent the ransomware cycle because it doesn’t ensure retrieval of the encrypted data. If the ransomware is not removed from the system, 50% of the victims who pay the ransom will likely experience further attacks.


History and Future of Ransomware

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the first known ransomware attack occurred in 1989 and targeted the healthcare industry. 28 years later, the healthcare industry remains a top target for ransomware attacks.

The first known attack was initiated in 1989 by Joseph Popp, Ph.D., an AIDS researcher, who attacked by distributing 20,000 floppy disks to AIDS researchers spanning more than 90 countries, claiming that the disks contained a program that analyzed an individual’s risk of acquiring AIDS through the use of a questionnaire.

However, the disk also contained a malware program that initially remained dormant in computers, only activating after a computer was powered on 90 times. After the 90-start threshold was reached, the malware displayed a message demanding a payment of $189 and another $378 for a software lease. This ransomware attack became known as the AIDS Trojan or the PC Cyborg.

There will be no end to ransomware anytime soon. Ransomware as a service raas attacks have skyrocketed in 2021 and will continue to rise. About 304.7 million ransomware attacks were attempted in the first half of 2021, and many attacks went unreported as per Ransomware statistics 2021.

A recent report by Tripwire supported the fact that ransomware will keep growing, and the post-ransomware costs will keep climbing significantly. There’s no denying the fact that Ransomware is being used as a weapon, and how ransomware spreads is no longer a mystery.

Modern-day attacks target operational technology, operating system, medical and healthcare services, third-party software, and IoT devices. Fortunately, organizations don’t have to be sitting ducks; they can minimize the risk of attacks by being proactive and having a reliable ransomware data recovery infrastructure.

Top Ransomware Attacks


1. Kia Motors

Kia Motors America (KMA) was hit by a ransomware attack in February that hit both internal and customer-facing systems, including mobile apps, payment services, phone services, and dealership systems. The hack also impacted customers’ IT systems that were required to deliver new vehicles.

DoppelPaymer was thought to be the ransomware family that hit Kia, and the threat actors claimed to have also targeted Kia’s parent business, Hyundai Motors America. Similar system failures were also experienced by Hyundai.

On the other hand, Kia and Hyundai denied being assaulted, a frequent approach victims use to protect their reputation and customer loyalty.

2. CD Projekt Red

In February 2021, a ransomware attack hit CD Projekt Red, a video game studio located in Poland, causing significant delays in developing their highly anticipated next release, Cyberpunk 2077. The threat actors apparently stole source codes for numerous of the company’s video games, including Cyberpunk 2077, Gwent, The Witcher 3, and an unpublished version of The Witcher 3.

According to CD Projekt Red, the unlawfully obtained material is currently being distributed online. Following the incident, the company installed many security measures, including new firewalls with anti-malware protection, a new remote-access solution, and a redesign of critical IT infrastructure, according to the company.

3. Acer

Acer, a Taiwanese computer manufacturer, was hit by the REvil ransomware outbreak in March. This attack was notable because it demanded a ransom of $50,000,000, the greatest known ransom to date.

According to Advanced Intelligence, the REvil gang targeted a Microsoft Exchange server on Acer’s domain before the attack, implying that the Microsoft Exchange vulnerability was weaponized.

4. DC Police Department

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., was hit by ransomware from the Babuk gang, a Russian ransomware syndicate. The police department refused to pay the $4 million demanded by the group in exchange for not exposing the agency’s information and encrypted data.

Internal material, including police officer disciplinary files and intelligence reports, was massively leaked due to the attack, resulting in a 250GB data breach. Experts said it was the worst ransomware attack on a police agency in the United States.

5. Colonial Pipeline

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware assault in 2021 was likely the most high-profile of the year. The Colonial Pipeline transports roughly half of the fuel on the East Coast. The ransomware attack was the most significant hack on oil infrastructure in US history.

On May 7, the DarkSide group infected the organization’s computerized pipeline management equipment with ransomware. DarkSide’s attack vector, according to Colonial Pipeline’s CEO, was a single hacked password for an active VPN account that was no longer in use. Because Colonial Pipeline did not use multi-factor authentication, attackers could access the company’s IT network and data more quickly.

6. Brenntag

In May, Brenntag, a German chemical distribution company, was also struck by a DarkSide ransomware attack around the same time as Colonial Pipeline. According to DarkSide, the hack targeted the company’s North American business and resulted in the theft of 150 GB of critical data.

They got access by buying stolen credentials, according to DarkSide affiliates. Threat actors frequently buy stolen credentials — such as Remote Desktop credentials — on the dark web, which is why multi-factor authentication and detecting unsafe RDP connections are critical.

The first demand from DarkSide was 133.65 Bitcoin, or nearly $7.5 million, which would have been the highest payment ever made. Brenntag reduced the ransom to $4.4 million through discussions, which they paid.

7. Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE)

In May 2021, a variation of Conti ransomware infected Ireland’s HSE, which provides healthcare and social services. The organization shut down all of its IT systems after the incident. Many health services in Ireland were impacted, including the processing of blood tests and diagnoses.

The firm refused to pay the $20 million ransom in Bitcoin because the Conti ransomware group provided the software decryption key for free. However, the Irish health service was still subjected to months of substantial disruption as it worked to repair 2,000 IT systems that had been infected by ransomware.

8. JBS

Also, in May 2021, JBS, the world’s largest meat processing plant, was hit by a ransomware attack that forced the company to stop the operation of all its beef plants in the U.S. and slow the production of pork and poultry. The cyberattack significantly impacted the food supply chain and highlighted the manufacturing and agricultural sectors’ vulnerability to disruptions of this nature.

The FBI identified the threat actors as the REvil ransomware-as-a-service operation. According to JBS, the threat actors targeted servers supporting North American and Australian IT systems. The company ultimately paid a ransom of $11 million to the Russian-based ransomware gang to prevent further disruption.

9. Kaseya

Kaseya, an IT services company for MSP and enterprise clients, was another victim of REvil ransomware — this time during the July 4th holiday weekend. Although only 1% of Kaseya’s customers were breached, an estimated 800 to 1500 small to mid-sized businesses were affected through their MSP. One of those businesses included 800 Coop stores, a Sweden-based supermarket chain that was forced to temporarily close due to an inability to open their cash registers.

The attackers identified a chain of vulnerabilities — ranging from improper authentication validation to SQL injection — in Kaseya’s on-premises VSA software, which organizations typically run in their DMZs. REvil then used MSP’s Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools to push out the attack to all connected agents.

10. Accenture

The ransomware gang LockBit hit Accenture, the global tech consultancy, with an attack in August that resulted in a leak of over 2,000 stolen files. The slow leak suggests that Accenture did not pay the $50 million ransom.

According to CyberScoop, Accenture knew about the attack on July 30 but did not confirm the breach until August 11, after a CNBC reporter tweeted about it. CRN criticized the firm for its lack of transparency about the attack, saying that the incident was a “missed opportunity by an IT heavyweight” to help spread awareness about ransomware.


Bonus: CNA Financial (2021)

CNA Financial, the seventh largest commercial insurer in the United States, announced on March 23, 2021, that it had “experienced a sophisticated cybersecurity attack.” Phoenix Locker ransomware was used in the attack, which was carried out by a group called Phoenix.

CNA Financial paid $40 million in May 2021 to regain access to the data. While CNA has been tight-lipped about the specifics of the negotiation and sale, it claims that all of its systems have been fully restored since then.


Types of ransomware:

There are two main types of ransomware:

  1. Crypto Ransomware

    Crypto ransomware encrypts files on a computer so the user cannot access them.

  2. Locker Ransomware

    Does not encrypt files. Rather, it locks the victim out of their device, preventing them from using it. Once they are locked out, cybercriminals carrying out locker ransomware attack demands a ransom to unlock the device.

Now you understand what ransomware is and the two main types of ransomware that exist. Let’s explore 10 types of ransomware attacks to help you understand how different and dangerous each type can be.

  • Locky

    Locky is a type of ransomware that was first released in a 2016 attack by an organized group of hackers. With the ability to encrypt over 160 file types, Locky spreads by tricking victims to install it via fake emails with infected attachments. This method of transmission is called phishing, a form of social engineering. Locky targets a range of file types that are often used by designers, developers, engineers, and testers.

  • WannaCry

    WannaCry is a ransomware attack that spread across 150 countries in 2017. Designed to exploit a vulnerability in Windows, it was allegedly created by the United States National Security Agency and leaked by the Shadow Brokers group. WannaCry affected 230,000 computers globally. The attack hit a third of hospital trusts in the UK, costing the NHS an estimated £92 million. Users were locked out and a ransom was demanded in the form of Bitcoin. The attack highlighted the problematic use of outdated systems, leaving the vital health service vulnerable to attack. The global financial impact of WannaCry was substantial -the cybercrime caused an estimated $4 billion in financial losses worldwide.

  • Bad Rabbit

    Bad Rabbit is a 2017 ransomware attack that spread using a method called a ‘drive-by’ attack, where insecure websites are targeted and used to carry out an attack. During a drive-by ransomware attack, a user visits a legitimate website, not knowing that they have been compromised by a hacker. Drive-by attacks often require no action from the victim, beyond browsing the compromised page. However, in this case, they are infected when they click to install something that is malware in disguise. This element is known as a malware dropper. Bad Rabbit used a fake request to install Adobe Flash as a malware dropper to spread its infection.

  • Ryuk

    Its a ransomware, which spread in August 2018, disabled the Windows System Restore option, making it impossible to restore encrypted files without a backup. Ryuk also encrypted network drives. The effects were crippling, and many organizations targeted in the US paid the demanded ransoms. August 2018 reports estimated funds raised from the attack were over $640,000.

  • Troldesh

    The Troldesh ransomware attack happened in 2015 and was spread via spam emails with infected links or attachments. Interestingly, the Troldesh attackers communicated with victims directly over email to demand ransoms. The cybercriminals even negotiated discounts for victims with who they built a rapport with — a rare occurrence indeed. This tale is the exception, not the rule. It is never a good idea to negotiate with cybercriminals. Avoid paying the demanded ransom at all costs as doing so only encourages this form of cybercrime.

  • Jigsaw

    Jigsaw is a ransomware attack that started in 2016. This attack got its name as it featured an image of the puppet from the Saw film franchise. Jigsaw gradually deleted more of the victim’s files each hour that the ransom demand was left unpaid. The use of horror movie imagery in this attack caused victims additional distress.

  • CryptoLocker

    CryptoLocker is ransomware that was first seen in 2007 and spread through infected email attachments. Once on your computer, it searched for valuable files to encrypt and hold to ransom. Thought to have affected around 500,000 computers, law enforcement, and security companies eventually managed to seize a worldwide network of hijacked home computers that were being used to spread Cryptolocker. This allowed them to control part of the criminal network and grab the data as it was being sent, without the criminals knowing. This action later led to the development of an online portal where victims could get a key to unlock and release their data for free without paying the criminals.

  • Petya

    Petya (not to be confused with ExPetr) is a ransomware attack that first hit in 2016 and resurged in 2017 as GoldenEye. Rather than encrypting specific files, this vicious ransomware encrypts the victim’s entire hard drive. It does this by encrypting the primary file table, making accessing files on the disk impossible. Petya spread through HR departments via a fake job application email with an infected Dropbox link.

  • GoldenEye

    The resurgence of Petya, known as GoldenEye, led to a global ransomware attack that happened in 2017. Dubbed WannaCry’s ‘deadly sibling,’ GoldenEye hit over 2,000 targets, including prominent oil producers in Russia and several banks. Frighteningly, GoldenEye even forced workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant to check radiation levels manually as they had been locked out of their Windows PCs.

  • GandCrab

    GandCrab is a rather unsavory famous ransomware attack that threatened to reveal the victim’s porn-watching habits. Claiming to have a high-jacked user’s webcam, GandCrab cybercriminals demanded a ransom, or otherwise, they would make the embarrassing footage public. After having first hit in January 2018, GandCrab evolved into multiple versions. As part of the No More Ransom Initiative, internet security providers and the police collaborated to develop a ransomware decryptor to rescue victims’ sensitive data from GandCrab.

How to Spot a Ransomware Email

You now know about the various types of ransomware attacks that have been perpetrated against individuals and businesses in recent years. Many of the victims of the ransomware attacks we’ve mentioned became infected after clicking on links in spam or phishing emails or opening malicious attachments.

So, how can you avoid being a victim of a ransomware assault if you receive a ransomware email? Checking the sender is the easiest approach to recognizing a ransomware email. Is it from a reliable source? Always be cautious if you receive an email from someone or a firm you don’t recognize.

Never open email attachments from senders you don’t trust, and never click on links in emails from untrustworthy sources. If the attachment asks you to activate macros, proceed with caution. This is a popular method of ransomware distribution.


Using a Ransomware Decryptor

Do not pay a ransom if you are the victim of a ransomware assault. Paying the ransom demanded by cybercriminals does not guarantee that your data will be returned. After all, these are crooks. It also strengthens the ransomware industry, increasing the likelihood of future assaults. You will be able to restore the data that is being held to ransom if it is backed up outside or in cloud storage.


Types of Ransomware Extensions

The ransomware includes a particular file extension, you can point it out with some of the extensions defined below

.ecc, .ezz, .exx, .zzz, .xyz, .aaa, .abc, .ccc, .vvv, .xxx, .ttt, .micro, .encrypted, .locked, .crypto, _crypt, .crinf, .r5a, .XRNT, .XTBL, .crypt, .R16M01D05, .pzdc, .good, .LOL!, .OMG!, .RDM, .RRK, .encryptedRSA, .crjoker, .EnCiPhErEd, .LeChiffre, .keybtc@inbox_com, .0x0, .bleep, .1999, .vault, .HA3, .toxcrypt, .magic, .SUPERCRYPT, .CTBL, .CTB2, .locky or 6-7 length extension consisting of random characters

Best Tips to Protect yourself from Ransomware

Best Tips to Protect yourself from Ransomware


Tips to Protect yourself against Ransomware attacks

It is becoming more difficult to prevent ransomware attacks, event large IT departments can have difficulty, just ask Sony, the City of Baltimore, or the City of Atlanta.

For the last 40 years, we have built networks and office systems with the concept of sharing data. Shared folders for example make it easy for users to exchange and edit documents, but also those shared folders are the target of Ransomware attacks.

Some tools can be added to reduce the likelihood of ransomware, but nothing can be purchased to “protect” a company.

The most effective protection for Ransomware starts with a network and desktop redesign followed by layers of security and isolated backups. The best approach is not to try to protect against Ransomware, it is to develop a plan that minimized the impact of an attack. Unfortunately, many of the steps listed below require a desktop or office changes and many organizations are unwilling to change.

tips to protect against ransomware

The Protected Harbor Difference

At Protected Harbor we will not onboard a client without making the changes needed to protect against Ransomware. We think a new reality is that only good network design and good governance can keep networks safe. Most small IT companies are ill-equipped to understand the depth of the risk, much less take the necessary steps to protect against Ransomware.

The end-user resistance to change combined with tight IT budgets and the concept that IT is low cost has created a climate of a one-stop drop-in application or solution to stop all IT problems. This approach will not work to stop Ransomware. In short at Protected Harbor we protect our clients through better design.

keep your business protected from ransomware


Below are the steps we take to protect our clients and we recommend the steps are deployed by all organizations.

Desktop/Network & Backup Isolation

The first step in a new network design is to limit through segmentation the network. Desktops, Servers and the backup should all be on separated and isolated networks. Using this approach an infected desktop will not be able to access the backups and will not infect the backups.


Protected Harbor will accomplish desktop and network isolation using virtualization. Virtualization allows Protected Harbor to back up the entire desktop, not just shared folders, or databases, or scanned folders, but all folders. This means we can recover the entire office, and not pieces of the office.

Email & Web Filtering

Filtering of email and web content is an important part of the Protected Harbor Ransomware defense. Good email filtering should include pattern recognition. The initial Ransomware attacks follow a template and email filtering systems when properly configured either block or quarantine the attack.

Enable network monitoring

We monitor for inbound and outbound traffic, which allows us to react to attack patterns in addition to standard monitoring. Network monitors can alert and warn on unusual traffic, or traffic that is typical of an attack; for example, if certain information is transmitted out of the network that would trigger an alert. We protect our customers by constantly monitoring network traffic, especially activity to or from parts of the world that are high sources of attacks, for example, Russia or China. We also monitor and alert on traffic flow. Oftentimes, if an end-user connects an infected phone or laptop to the network, we will see a change in the traffic flow which will trigger an alert.

ransomware traffic monitoring
Above is a sample of our traffic monitoring.
ransomware network traffic monitoring

Tighten local server/desktop permissions

Our clients do not run their programs as Administrators. Enhancing the security drastically reduces a ransomware attack and virtually eliminates malware attacks. Enhanced security reduces what an attack can affect through better design.

Reduce the number of common shares folders

Typically, clients will have one or two shared folders that all users have access to. Ransomware attacks not only infect those shares but then use them to spread the attack to other non-infected systems. We work with clients to reduce or eliminate shared folders, increasing the protection through better design to ransomware.

Reduce public corporate contact information

Live email addresses should not be published on a website. If a website needs an email address, the published address shouldn’t use the same format as the internal address. If jsmith is the email prefix, as in then for the website the published email should be Additionally, sensors can be added to the content filter for for example. This would mean the attacking IP (the one attempting to send email to is really a robot attacker; adding that IP to the block list would prevent all future attacks from occurring.

Parameter or Geo Blocking

For our clients we maintain enhanced network protection that includes active parameter checking and Geo-Blocking. For example, we check the address of inbound requests, and if the IP is from a blocked country, then the traffic is blocked even before it reaches the client’s network. Countries we routinely block are North Korea, Russia and countries are known for sending out Ransomware attacks. If access is needed from a blocked country, a simple support ticket resolves the issue.

Testing & Training

At Protected Harbor we perform routine simulated Ransomware attacks. These tests are productive at helping end user stay vigilant to attacks and the tests allow end users to be identified that might need some additional assistance to understand the importance of being careful with email.

What is a Ransomware attack?

What is a Ransomware attack


“We guarantee we can PROTECT YOU FROM RANSOMWARE!”


Any vendor that says that or implies that is lying. There is no one magic happy pill, service, or device to stop ransomware. When done right guarding against ransomware is a combination of multiple technologies, backups, education good layered network design and human intervention.

Protected Harbor is a unique vendor because we don’t resell other company services, we engineer our own solutions. That depth of knowledge is a foundational difference between us and anyone else. The depth of technical ability allows us to write this document and solve the problem at the core and not band-aid the problem as others do.


Ransomware Explained

Ransomware is malicious software that targets computer systems and locks down important data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware is an increasingly prevalent form of cyber-attack, which can cause serious disruption to businesses and individuals alike. It works by malicious actors encrypting a victim’s data and then demanding a ransom payment in order to restore access to it. Organizations must take active steps toward ransomware protection and prevention, as the costs associated with a successful attack can be substantial. Investing in robust IT security measures, such as antivirus software and regular backups, will significantly reduce the risk of becoming a target. Furthermore, ensuring employees have the necessary understanding of ransomware prevention techniques will help protect your organization from this form of cyber-attack.


What is a Ransomware attack?

Ransomware is the encryption of files, without knowing the password, and most of the time the encryption is self-executed for local files, network files and operating system files combined with Trojan installations to enable later additional data theft or additional attacks.

Most of us have used or made a password protected ZIP file before. ZIP files are a form of encrypted and compressed files. The encryption and compression process
works by mathematically removing the empty and repeated characters in the data using password. The mathematical formula uses the password as a seed and applies a
compression algorithm to the data, securing and reducing the data. Using this technique, a ZIP file is both secure, because without the password it can’t be decrypted and smaller in size.

A Ransomware attack at its core is where the organizations data files have been encrypted using a similar technique to a password protected ZIP file. Typically,
ransomware attacks encrypt one file at a time. Ransomware attacks can be devastating because the data once encrypted is not recoverable. Initially versions of ransomware attacks targeted local files on local computers, but more recent attacks have caused greater damage by targeting network folders and operating system files.
Once an operating system file is infected the server or PC will never work right and should be totally reformatted and recreated.

Ransomware attacks also attempt to install infected files, also called Trojans. The Trojans are used to later attack the computer or server again and or are used to
monitor the infected system to steal data. Some Trojans don’t directly attack but instead run in background monitoring and sending new data. This is what occurred at the Sony attack;  Modern cleaning tools like Malwarebytes do a good job at removing infected cookies and web attacks but do not clean operating system files very well, which is why we always recommend not cleaning a PC or Server but rebuilding it.

How does a Ransomware attack occur?

But how did it occur? How did it get in? Virtually all of the time the attack is self-started, meaning the attack was triggered by a trusting employee. Most Ransomware attacks start via email. An external email server or email account is compromised, and the compromised account is then used to send out infected emails.

Image is an example. The email itself it not infected. The email account is legitimate, and at the time the email server was not flagged as a spammer – meaning this email would have passed through most firewalls, filters and blocking services.

The infection is the attached HTML file. The attached HTML file is the payload. The HTML file will look to many anti-virus programs as a web cookie or bot, i.e. a
legitimate attachment. Bots or payloads can take many forms, Macros in Word, Excel or PDF files are typically used.

how ransomware occurs

A payload is a small piece of programming code designed to look like a legitimate web from a web site. Once the end-user clicks on the attachment the payload is activated. Once active the payload will download from a remote site the actual attack. The attack will be a larger program that is also designed to slip through firewalls and content filters, this program will start to encrypt files and also will look for links to remote data, either remote server (RDP for example) login information, web site links with stored passwords, FTP or STP file transfer links, virtually any form of data connection is attempted. The attack is designed to find as much data as is possible, the more data that is encrypted the more the infected company is willing to pay.

How to Protect your data from Phishing Sites

How to Protect Your Data from Phishing Sites

How to Protect Your Data from Phishing Sites

What’s a Phishing Attack?

A phishing attack is a deceptive attempt by cybercriminals to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, or financial details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. These attacks often occur via email, where the attacker sends a fraudulent message appearing to be from a legitimate organization, enticing recipients to click on malicious links or provide confidential information. Phishing attacks can also occur through other communication channels, such as text messages or social media platforms.

To protect against phishing attacks, organizations and individuals employ various measures, including secure email protocols, email security solutions, and secure browsing practices. Secure email protocols utilize encryption and authentication mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information during transmission. Email security solutions, such as spam filters and malware scanners, help detect and block phishing attempts before they reach recipients’ inboxes. Secure browsing practices involve verifying website URLs, avoiding clicking on suspicious links, and being cautious when sharing personal information online.

Common types of phishing attacks include spear phishing, where attackers target specific individuals or organizations, and pharming, where attackers redirect users to fraudulent websites. By implementing robust data protection measures and promoting awareness of phishing techniques, individuals and organizations can mitigate the risks posed by these malicious attacks and safeguard sensitive information from unauthorized access and exploitation.


Here’s How Phishing Works

In today’s digital landscape, understanding how phishing works is essential for safeguarding your data and maintaining secure communication channels. Phishing, a form of cyber attack, typically involves fraudulent emails or messages disguised as legitimate entities to deceive recipients into revealing sensitive information. These attacks aim to compromise data protection measures and exploit vulnerabilities in secure email systems.

There are various types of phishing tactics employed by cybercriminals, including deceptive emails, spear phishing targeting specific individuals or organizations, and pharming redirecting users to malicious websites. Ensuring robust email security protocols and practicing secure browsing habits are paramount in mitigating phishing risks.

To fortify defenses against phishing attempts, prioritize implementing secure email solutions and employ encryption methods to safeguard sensitive information. Additionally, educate users on recognizing phishing red flags, such as suspicious sender addresses or unsolicited requests for personal data.

By understanding the mechanisms of phishing attacks and bolstering email security measures, individuals and organizations can proactively defend against data breaches and uphold robust data protection standards. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay secure in the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

How to Protect Your Data from Phishing Sites


Please follow these steps to help protect your data from phishing sites:-

Follow these steps to stay Protected as in Protected Harbor!
  1. Never enter password and ID on a web site opened from an email
    With the exception of when you forget a password and you requested the link, never ever enter your password and ID on a web site opened from an email. If a web site needs to be opened, then open the website in your browser, not by clicking on the link.
  2. Never log in to a secure server or site from a public computer
    Never log in to a secure server or secure site (HTTPS) from a public computer. Cookies can be left that will contain enough information for your account to be compromised, use your cell phone instead.
  3. Do not use public WiFi
    Do not use public WiFi. Criminals are always scanning public WiFi systems looking for users to connect so that they can capture the ID and password.

What to do if you fall victim?

If you fall victim to a phishing attack and disclose sensitive personal information, take immediate action. Notify your bank or financial institution to secure your accounts and monitor for fraudulent activity. Change your passwords for affected accounts and enable two-factor authentication where possible. Report the phishing attempt to the appropriate authorities, such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group or the Federal Trade Commission. Additionally, educate yourself and others on how to recognize and avoid phishing scams in the future. Remember to report any suspicious contacts to help prevent others from falling victim to similar attacks.