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.

RANSOMWARE

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.

VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT AND TOOLS

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

Ways to PROTECT YOUR SYSTEM 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.

Virtualization

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 jsmith@abc.com then for the website the published email should be jacksmith@abc.com. Additionally, sensors can be added to the content filter for petersmith@abc.com for example. This would mean the attacking IP (the one attempting to send email to petersmith@abc.com) 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 amegybank.com 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.