The Internet is full of danger these days, but you'll agree that nothing scares users and IT security professionals more than the ransomware threat.


Ransomware attacks can disrupt network access and operations, damage the reputation of customers and employees, and lead to further attacks as cybercriminals consider organizations vulnerable.  

When ransomware gets a file-like "digital hostage", it demands a ransom for release. Therefore, it is crucial to be prepared to reduce the chances of being in front of a locked laptop or encrypted file. 

Fortunately, good cyber hygiene, including employee training, robust configuration management, and security systems, can mitigate ransomware vulnerabilities and help prepare for the worst-case scenarios. 

However, in this article, we will be taking a comprehensive look at what a Ransomware attack is, how it works and how you can avoid it.  

What Is Ransomware Attack? 

A ransomware attack can be likened to a case of a kidnapped or abducted victim the victim's family pays a ransom fee to the kidnapper/attacker or else the victim will not be released.  

So, we can say, Ransomware attacks are a type of malicious software (malware) that threatens to release or block access to data or computer systems, usually by encryption, until the victim pays the attacker a ransom. In many cases, there is a time limit for requesting a ransom. If the victim does not pay on time, the data will get lost, or the ransom  will increase. 

Are you wondering how a Ransomware attack works? No need to worry. 

How Does Ransomware Attack Work? 

One way criminals infect victims is to send an email containing malicious links and attachments, which users unknowingly click to launch an attack. This can be an email sent  to millions of potential victims or a targeted email sent to a particular person in a particular  organization.  

The attacker tells the victim that the data is encrypted, and so to access the decryption key,  the victim often needs to make an immediate payment in a cryptocurrency (not a wallet  address) that protects the attacker's identity. 

If payments are not made during the initial period (usually 48-72 hours later), attackers are  not ashamed to increase their ransom and often threaten to delete their data. The victims  cannot expect good intentions, so there is no guarantee that an attacker will supply the main  post payment.  

Ransomware often contains extraction functions that can steal important information such  as usernames and passwords.  

Preventing ransomware from invading your network is a serious problem. Due to the vulnerabilities rooted in unsuspecting users, the task to prevent these attacks means that you need a robust email and network security system that includes a powerful backup program that you can roll back to. 

Security Threats - How Do You Know If You Are A Potential Target For Ransomware  Attacks?  

Several factors can make you a target for ransomware attacks. Some of which include: 

∙ The device used is not up to date  

∙ You have old software on your device  

∙ Browsers and operating systems are no longer patched  

∙ There is no good backup plan  

∙ Not much attention is paid to cyber security and there are no concrete plans  

If one or more of these points apply to your device, you run the risk of being a victim of a  ransomware attack. 

How Do You Prevent Yourself From Ransomware Attack? 

1. Avoid Disclosure Of Personal Information: If you receive a phone call, text, or email requesting personal information from an untrusted source, do not respond. 

Cybercriminals planning ransomware attacks may attempt to collect personal information in advance. This information is used to specially tune phishing  messages. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of your message, please  contact the sender directly. 

2. Never Click On Insecure Links: Never click on spam messages or links on unfamiliar websites. Clicking on a malicious link will initiate an automatic  download that can infect your computer. 

3. Never Use An Unknown USB Stick: Do not connect the USB stick or other storage media to a computer of unknown origin. A cybercriminal may have infected a  storage medium and placed it in a public place to trick someone into using it. 

4. Using VPN Services On Public Wi-Fi Networks: Careful use of a public Wi-Fi network is a wise safeguard against ransomware. Computers are more vulnerable to attack when using public Wi-Fi networks. To maintain protection, avoid using  public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions or use secure VPN services.

5. Keep Your Programs And Operating System Up-To-Date: Regularly updating  your programs and operating systems can help protect you from malware. Make  sure you are using the latest security patches when performing the update. This  makes it difficult for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in the program. 

6. Beware Of Suspicious Email Attachments: Ransomware can also infiltrate  devices via email attachments, so you shouldn’t open them. To ensure that the email  is reliable, pay close attention to the sender and make sure the address is correct.  Never open an attachment that requires the macro to run to display it. If the  attachment is infected, opening the attachment will run a malicious macro that  allows the malware to take control of your computer.

7. Use Only Known Download Sources: To minimize the risk of downloading ransomware, do not download software or media files from unknown websites. Rely  on a verified and trusted site for downloads. Such websites can be recognized as a  sign of trust. Make sure that "HTTPS" is used instead of "HTTP" in the address bar  of the browser of the page you are visiting. A shield or lock icon in the address bar  may also indicate that your site is safe. Also, be careful when downloading anything  to your mobile device. You can trust the Google Play Store or Apple App Store  (depending on your device). 

Bottom Line 

As with any form of malware, fighting ransomware and using good security software  is the first step in the right direction. Creating a backup is especially important for this  type of malware, as this protects even in the worst-case scenarios if you are a victim of ransomware. 

We hope you will take the above steps to end the nightmare and prevent future attacks. For those who haven't had their data hijacked for ransom purposes, there's a lot you can do to deal with the threat.  

It is highly recommended that you write down any precautions that you think are not currently in place, and let your new watchword be "To Increase Your Defenses Against Ransomware”!