This post is a courtesy of Tokaimail, email security add-in for Microsoft Outlook
Ransomware remains the most prominent malware threat. (Datto, 2019)
Ransomware is a type of malware that uses encryption to hold a victim’s information and ask for a ransom in return. A user or enterprise’s critical data is encrypted so that they cannot access files, documents, or applications. A ransom is then commanded to restore access. Ransomware like malware is set up to spread across an enterprise network specifically targeting file servers, and can therefore paralyze an entire organization.
Ransomware is a very lucrative illegal activity for hackers, generating billions of dollars in payments to cybercriminals and inflicting significant harm and expenses for businesses and governmental bodies.
How does ransomware work?
The ransomware mechanism is fairly simple. It uses asymmetric encryption to encrypt and decrypt a file. This type of cryptography is used commonly to protect files, folders, and documents.
The public-private pair of keys is crafted by the hacker, with the private key stored on the criminal’s server. This is the same kind of cryptography that is used for HTTPS with SSL certificates.
Whenever the victim pays the ransom, the hacker will hand over the private key to the victim so he can unlock access to his data. But beware, some hackers won’t do it even if you pay the ransom. They may also encrypt your data with different keys, giving you access to some of your data and demanding that you pay more to recover the data in full.
Without access to the private key, it is nearly impossible to decrypt the files that are being held for ransom.
Malicious emails are up 600% due to COVID-19. (ABC News, 2021)
Many adaptations of ransomware do exist. Some ransomware is distributed through email spam campaigns or via targeted attacks. Malware always needs an attack vector to build its presence on an endpoint. That is why it is so crucial to educate your employees about the risk of these attacks. Cybercriminals will use any possible means to penetrate an organization including social engineering.
Once the organization has been penetrated, the malware will reside in the system and attempt to spread to make as much damage as possible.
37% of respondents’ organizations were affected by ransomware attacks in the last year. (Sophos, 2021)
Once the ransomware gets access to file servers, it will execute a malicious application on the infected system. This code searches and encrypts valuable files, such as Microsoft Word documents, PDF, databases, and so on.
Once files are encrypted, ransomware indicates to the user that a ransom needs to be paid within X hours to decrypt the files, or the files will be lost forever.
One of the solutions could be to restore a backup version of the files that have been encrypted. This is only valid if the malware did not spread to the backup server and also successfully encrypted the backup copies.
Why is ransomware spreading?
Ransomware attacks are swiftly improving to counter security systems. The activity is very lucrative so more and more criminals are using this type of attack to generate income.
In 2021, the largest ransomware payout was made by an insurance company at $40 million, setting a world record. (Business Insider, 2021)
This type of attack is made easy thanks to the availability of malware kits that are easy to use and can help even novices creating new malware specimens on demand.
Ransomware marketplaces have flourished online, allowing anyone to become a cybercriminal.
The average ransom fee requested has increased from $5,000 in 2018 to around $200,000 in 2020. (National Security Institute, 2021)
How TokaiMail protects you against ransomware?
TokaiMail helps users detect malicious emails. Some emails can be extremely tricky to flag without proper tools in hand. It is always possible that a partner or colleague may have been infected. Malwares can spread from legit email boxes and look just like a normal email.
Users must learn how to detect and dispose of such emails before it is too late.
Experts estimate that a ransomware attack will occur every 11 seconds in 2021. (Cybercrime Magazine, 2019)
TokaiMail is a very simple and effective email security add-in that helps you flag suspicious emails in a few seconds. Our philosophy is to put the user at the center of the threat management process.
AI/ML-based applications are a source of false-positive which can impact your business by dismissing legitimate emails. Educated users can identify threats with higher accuracy than any AI tool if they are provided with the right application.
Ready to give it a try? Checkout Tokaimail Outlook Security Add-In now!