An organization is at the risk of a ransomware attack every 14 seconds. Ransomware is a type of malware, and it affects businesses and individuals. In the past two years, this threat has become more and more significant. The damages from cybercrime are expected to hit $6 trillion this year.
Ransomware encrypts the files and then demands ransom from the victims if they want to access their files again. The victims are given instructions by the blackmailer on how to pay and access the decryption key. Mostly the payments are made through Bitcoin.
How Ransomware Works
One of the ways ransomware can access a computer system is through phishing. In phishing, the victims receive an email that contains attachments under the guise of trustworthy files. These files, once downloaded and opened, can infect the victim’s computer instantly and get administrative access.
Once the malware has taken over the victim’s PC, all of the files are compromised. The files are now impossible to decrypt without a key that’s only available to the intruder or attacker. The attacker then contacts the victim to explain how they can access the files by paying in Bitcoins as they’re untraceable.
Sometimes, the attackers also pretend to be a law enforcement firm threatening to shut down the victim’s business or expose them to the relevant authorities for having pornography or illegal software on their computer. This variation is also known as “leakware” where the attacker threatens the victims that their confidential information will be publicized and hence, leaked.
How Bad Can the Threat Be
How is ransomware a massive threat, you must be wondering. You just pay the attacker and access your files and continue with your life, right? In actuality, the effects can be devastating as some attackers pose serious threats to some organizations and individuals.
Fortune 500 companies, organizations with a huge clientele, and governments can face losses of millions or even billions. Sometimes, it even has reputational costs as it can compromise the trust of the organizations’ stakeholders. For a government, the data can be personal information about employees and citizens and military data. This can be a grave danger to the residents of a city or country. The same happens with individuals as their personal data is threatened to be leaked if they’re unable to pay the huge amount and on time.
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