What is a Ransomware Attack?
Over time, almost all of the businesses and organizations of the world are adopting new technologies and mostly rely on machines and digital products these include computers, auto-operating machines, and more. The Computer is now considered the backbone of organizations because it stores, processes, and manages business-related data quickly, efficiently, and easily. The natural fact involves here is that everything has some advantages and disadvantages, the computer also has some disadvantages, and these disadvantages are being manipulated by the evil-minded people. They always try to harm the people and make their income through their evil activities, therefore they try multiple ways like stealing secret data and passwords by phishing, and they spread computer viruses and Ransomware software to their victims.
Ransomware is a computer malware program that can be installed automatically on any type of unsecured machine without administrative permissions, it locks the computer resources, & encrypts the stored data, and asks the victim to pay a ransom amount to regain access to the data. In cyber security, the ransomware attack is considered to be deadly dangerous because it encrypts the data and shows the victim a message with a deadline that if a certain amount isn’t paid by a certain date, you will lose the data forever or the ransom gets doubled.
There is no guarantee that the attacker (Blackmailer) will free up your resources or decrypt your data after getting the ransom paid. This high-risk factor makes ransomware more dangerous and effective. The ransomware attackers always target high-profile individuals, businesses, and organizations you can’t imagine what ransomware can do with their data, they are targeted because they can pay more to get their data back. According to an estimation, 714 million ransomware attacks were executed last year, and an amount of $5.2 Billion was collected by the ransomware operators in the form of Bitcoin.
History of Ransomware Attacks
In 1989, The ransomware operators used to mail the floppies of (AIDS virus prevention tips) containing the hidden ransomware malware to the targeted victims, and around 20,000 copies of these floppies were mailed. When the victims run the floppy drive on their computers, the interactive program worked as described, but the ransomware behind was set to perform its actions after the 90th boot. This ransomware was called the AIDS Trojan. After the affection of ransomware, the victim was asked to send a cash check or international money order of $189 or $378 to PC Cyborg Corporation in Panama.
At that time electronic payment systems weren’t available, and ransomware operators faced the ransom collection problem, by the year 1992, anonymous cash systems were abused to collect the ransom, and since that many types of ransomware attacks appeared like cryptoviral extortion in 1996, these ransomware attacks boosted after May 2005, and many ransomware trojans like GpCode, TroJ. Ransome, Krotten, Cryzip, and MayArchive appeared more complicated RSA encryption.
By the year 2013, Bitcoin provided the medium of collecting ransom to the blackmailers, the first ransomware that used Bitcoin was Cryptolocker, then after all of the attackers copied the Cryptolocker model and collected the ransom in billions of dollars.
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The Most Dangerous Ransomware Attacks
1. Reveton Ransomware: This ransomware arrived by the end of 2011, Reveton Ransomware is also known as “Police Trojan” because it showed the victim a login screen with the FBI and Police warning that your computer was recently used in illegal activity, so we have locked your computer, send us the fine amount (ransom) to regain the access to your computer. Reveton ransomware removal was easy because it can be removed without installing any anti-virus software simply, you had to boot in safe mode and make some changes in registries.
2. CryptoLocker Ransomware: This highly efficient trojan appeared in September 2013 and spread all over the world rapidly, it collected $27 million in Bitcoin in just three months & other ransomware operators copied this collection method. Cryptolocker used GamoverZeus (a botnet) to deliver the ransomware and used DGA for anonymity. Cryptolocker ransomware could be removed by reputable anti-virus software.
3. CryptoLocker 2.0 Ransomware: In September 2014, people in Australia started receiving emails with the context of failed parcel delivery notices, these messages were sent by ransomware operators to successfully serve their ransomware malware to their victims. The links in these emails redirected people to a website where they had to fill a CAPTCHA and the program would automatically be installed in the system. This trojan is also called CryptoLocker.F Ransomware.
5. Fusob Ransomware: This is smartphone ransomware, that appeared in 2015 and affected a huge number of mobile users. People alleged consuming online pornographic content via a particular browser were targeted. This ransomware was smart enough that tricked people precisely, on particular websites they manipulated location and phone model data fetched from their user-agent and showed the messages to the victims that “Your phone is infected by many viruses, try our anti-virus to remove all viruses”. Fusob operators used to harass them and extort the ransom in return. According to Wikipedia, they demanded the victims to pay $100 to $200 in ransom.
6. Petya Ransomware: In 2016, Petya named ransomware appeared with a new encryption technique. It could encrypt the MBR (Master Boot Record), by modifying NTFS file system tables, as a result, a warning message demanding to pay the ransom appeared on the blue screen before the boot of the operating system.
7. WannaCry Ransomware: In May 2017, many computers observed the WannaCry ransomware attack, which was based on windows EternalBlue vulnerability. WannaCry demanded Bitcoin worth $300 for each computer and infected millions of computers across 150 countries. WannaCry is considered a digital disaster because it affected many of the large businesses and organizations across the globe.
8. Bad Rabbit Ransomware: Bad Rabbit appeared in 2017, and this ransomware hadn’t used the EternalBlue vulnerability instead, it was spread by the fake update prompt of adobe flash player in older versions of Windows computers. Bad Rabbit Ransomware had lots of similarities with the Petya and WannaCry ransomware attacks, it affected many countries including the US, South Korea, and Turkey.
9. Dark Side Ransomware: On the 7th of May 2021, The Dark Side Ransomware is considered the worst cyberattack and it is one of the biggest attacks of (recent ransomware attacks 2021). US Colonial Pipeline was hit by this Ransomware which resulted in the shutdown of 45% of fuel supply to the East Coast of the US. The DarkSide Ransomware collected $5 million in ransom via Bitcoin from Colonial Pipeline. And soon after these hackers got arrested via tracing the blockchain transactions.
10. Ransomware as a Service: Hackers never stop their work, they work to produce viruses, ransomware, trojans, and other payloads to make money for them. Some hackers use to sell their ransomware as a service and make money from their code. But here you probably think who’s gonna purchase these ransomware software the answer is, the organizations and the governments also many individuals do this for a sack of business. This can be determined from recent ransomware attacks that many organizations use these ransomware tools to challenge and tease their competitors.
How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks:
Below are a few tips to deal with Ransomware
1. Always back up your important data, and make sure to disconnect the backup drives and preserve the backup offline as well as a backup copy on cloud storage.
2. Limit the access of your important data, to highly trusted people who have the basic knowledge of cyber threats and attacks. Also, disconnect the LAN or WAN network when it is not in use.
3. Train your whole staff about modern cyber threats and cyber attacks like Phishing ransomware, as well as they must be trained about social engineering attacks.
4. Always use a reputable antivirus (Pro versions claim ransomware protection in a better way) and make sure that they are up to date because updated antivirus knows more about the types of ransomware and can provide you better results.
5. Operating system vendors use to push updates and security patches for the latest known vulnerabilities, never miss these updates and keep your system updated.
6. Never install the software provided to you by mail or any third-party store or website, always use the genuine copy because the majority of pirated copies contain ransomware malware.