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Ransomware Attackers Are Using Zero Day Exploits

John Dunn

Among software vulnerabilities, none is more feared than so-called “zero days,” which are known only to the attackers (that is, defenders have “zero days” to patch). These have traditionally been used sparingly in targeted attacks carried out by nation-states.Recently, however, this has started to change, and zero day exploits have started turning up more regularly […]

Ransomware Recovery Doesn’t Have to Grind Your Organization to a Halt

Brad Rudisail

Sponsored Post: NasuniRansomware is a term that strikes fear in the minds of many CIOs and Technology Directors. While not a death sentence, it can certainly seem so as downtime turns from minutes, into hours or even days. During that time, operations grind to a complete stop or at least slow down as digital processes […]

Patient Demands That Hospital Pay a Ransom

John Dunn

Should organizations extorted by ransomware gangs pay their attackers?It’s a question that­ cuts to the heart of ransomware response. Some take what might be viewed as a pragmatic stance and say there is no right or wrong answer, and organizations should be free to make their own decision.  On the other side is a growing […]

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How Does Ransomware Work?

How does ransomware work? It starts with a vulnerability on your network. That vulnerability can take many forms: a phishing email that someone opens, a compromised password, or a malicious website a worker is convinced to visit.

And the less secure an organization’s IT infrastructure, the more likely it is to be victimized by ransomware. An unpatched, Internet-facing server is especially vulnerable, as is an application that’s not up-to-date. Networks can be hacked if they have weaknesses in a router. Operating systems of all kinds are juicy targets for ransomware.

The same goes for end-user systems, like desktops, laptops, and mobile phones. These attacks can rely on a combination of “social engineering”—fooling users into unsafe actions like clicking on email links or downloading attachments—and technical methods of entry, like automated attacks that look for vulnerabilities.

How Does Ransomware Work?
Once Ransomware Is On The Network

Once it gets on the network ...

... it’s pretty much Game Over for an organization. Files are encrypted, and the only way to decrypt them is with the mathematical key held by the attacker. At that point, it’s pay up (usually in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency) or lose all the data.

Companies are having discussions on whether or not to pay the ransom. Paying is unwise, for numerous reasons. Two of the most important are

Rarely is all the data recovered. Statistics show that about 65% of the data is recovered on average.

Once a company shows a willingness to pay, they become targets for more attacks. This can be in the form of another ransomware attack immediately following the first, or a blackmail attempt whereby the hackers threaten to publicly release the confidential data stolen unless the company pays up again.


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The Real Cost of Ransomware

The Costs of Ransomware


It’s common to think that paying the fee is the most expensive part of being hit by a ransomware attack. But in most cases, that’s a false assumption. So how much does ransomware cost in real-world scenarios? More than you imagine.
The Unexptected Costs of Ransomware


Let’s start with the cost of downtime for your organization. If you have a high-volume online sales platform, for instance, any downtime is expensive. And the downtime to recover from a ransomware attack, which can involve many steps, can be devastating.
More About The Costs


Then consider the cost to your business’s reputation. If you’re in the news from a ransomware attack, that can influence current and potential customers, as well as advertisers, partners, and so on. Losing that trust directly affects your company’s bottom line.
The List Is Long


You’re also likely to implement much stronger cybersecurity measures, which may cost a bundle. You’ll also see an increase in insurance premiums, including ransomware insurance. There’s also the possibility of legal issues arising, settlements, etc. It could get very ugly.

Examples of Ransomware

What kinds of ransomware is out there in the wild?

While there are plenty of ransomware examples, and a nearly infinite number of variations, some types remain popular with hackers, and pop up again and again.

Wannacry Ransomware


WannaCry is one of the most famous ransomware examples. Released in May 2017, it hit an estimated 200,000 computers in 15 countries. U.S. and U.K. officials claimed that North Korea was behind the attack.
Cryptolocker Ransomware


CryptoLocker was released in 2013. The most notable aspect of CryptoLocker is that it was the first ransomware to demand payment in cryptocurrency. That opened the floodgates for ransomware becoming a plague, since it created a business model for attackers.
Locky Ransomware


Locky, which descended on the world in 2016, became the first widespread ransomware, and sent out as many as 500,000 phishing emails per day. It’s worth noting that 2016 has been called “The Year of Ransomware,” since many different types came out that year, including Petya, SamSam, Cerber, and others.

Ransomware in the News

Ransomware news is everywhere these days. It’s nearly impossible for a week to go by without reading or hearing about another company that was hit by an attack.

Colonial Pipeline

The most recent gold standard for ransomware in the news, of course, is the Colonial Pipeline attack in May 2021. In that attack, which hit the source of 45% of the fuel used on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a criminal gang of hackers calling itself DarkSide caused the price of fuel to briefly skyrocket.

 It served as a wakeup call to many—not only the brazenness of the attack, but the ability of ransomware to take out a critical bit of U.S. infrastructure shook up the IT industry, bringing a new urgency to efforts to protect and defend against the ransomware plague.

Have You Heard

In a recent story about the growing threat of ransomware, it was reported in late September 2021 that Russian hackers launched a ransomware attack against two farming co-ops in Iowa and Minnesota. The Minnesota attacks badly disrupted the victims’ daily operations. In the other attack, the hackers demanded a $5.9 million payment in cryptocurrency, which is the favored payment method.

Unfortunately, the ransomware news isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon.

Ransomware in the News

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