How Does Ransomware Work?

Ransomware is a major problem for companies around the globe. Did you know businesses lose about $8,500 per hour because of ransomware-induced downtime, according to Comparitech? The CISA reports that, even though agencies and governments remain vigilant to uphold data security, malicious actors continue to reinvent their ransomware tactics. According to KPMG, the Covid- 19 pandemic opened doors to a surge in ransomware as cyber criminals targeted the less fortified computer systems belonging to people working remotely.

For a ransomware attack to be successful, it first needs to gain access to the system and encrypt the targeted files. From there, it is a matter of the attackers making their demands and the victims working tirelessly to prevent the attack from being publicized. Thankfully, a system with robust data security features can quickly steer clear of an attack. However, if the contrary is true, the system could easily become a victim of a cyberattack. Here is how ransomware works and why you need to protect yourself and your employees.

First Step: Gaining System Access

Like any malware, ransomware first gains access to the system. The attackers usually use a few target points (also known as infection vectors) like malicious emails or remote control. For example, they may send an email containing a link to a website and, once clicked, the website starts a malicious download. If the person involved falls for the phish, the ransomware loads and executes on the computer, compromising data security.

Second Step: Encrypting the Files

Once the infection vector has been successfully executed, the ransomware starts encrypting files. The process involves accessing files and using an attack-controlled key to mangle the accessed files. To finalize the attack, the ransomware then replaces the original files with the encrypted versions. Other high-level attackers will go a step further and delete any backups of the original files to make recovery almost impossible.

Final Step: Making the Demand

Once the attackers are sure the file encryption is complete, they show themselves using a display background containing a ransom note. Typically, the note contains the demand, which may be a set amount of crypto or any other asset in exchange for the files. If the victims comply and complete the transaction, the ransomware operator may share a key to decrypt the files, then move on to their next victim.

Understanding how ransomware compromises data security is just the first step in prevention. You probably don’t know how to protect yourself. In this case, you should partner with one of the best data security companies. At The AME Group, we will check the security of your current system and carefully comb through it for any vulnerabilities. We offer computer security solutions that you can trust. Contact us today and we’ll help you steer clear of any online attacks.