In a ransomware attack, victims receive an unsuspicious email attached with a malware. Upon opening the email(which might contain a URL or an attachment like an invoice, but contains the malicious ransomware code), their computers are infected with malicious software.
Organizations and users are mostly not aware that they’ve been infected until they can no longer access their information or until they start seeing messages on their systems advising them of the attack and demanding claims for a ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key. These messages include detailed directions on how to pay the ransom. Payment is usually done with bitcoins as it provides virtual anonymity.
There are two kinds of ransomware in circulation as of now:
It integrates advanced encryption algorithms. It is designed to stop system files and display messages for ransom and later to provide the victim with the key that can decrypt the encrypted content.
It locks the victim out of the OS, making it impractical to access any apps or files. In this case, the files aren’t encrypted, but the criminals still beseech a ransom to unlock the infected system.
Ransomware attacks are not only slowly expanding, but they are becoming more sophisticated with time. Cybercriminals have turned to spear-phishing emails targeting selective individuals as systems got better at filtering out spam.
Quick Peek Into The History Of Ransomware
27 years ago(1989), the first ransomware in history emerged called the AIDS Trojan. It spread via floppy disks and resulted in delivering $189 to a P.O. box in Panama to pay the ransom.
Ransomware surfaced as the go-to malware to fuel the money-making machine, cyber attackers shifted from cyber vandalism to cybercrime as a business affair. The evolution of encryption algorithms and the onset of Bitcoin ripened the development of ransomware.
Latest Ransomware Attack On Online Business
Multinational company Omnicell recently confirmed that it had experienced a data breach following a reported ransomware attack, impacting internal systems.
The company, headquartered in Mountain View, California, USA, learned of the ransomware attack, which it disclosed on May 9 2022 in a 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. More details are likely to be disclosed in the coming weeks.
The company says it immediately took steps to contain the incident and that it also implemented plans to “restore and support continued operations.” Omnicell did not provide further information on the ransomware used in the attack and didn’t say whether the attackers stole any corporate or personal information.
Why Are Online Businesses Targeted?
It only takes one person clicking on the incorrect thing, and the entire system goes for a toss. Typically, small or medium-sized businesses often do not back up their data and do not engage in rigorous cyber hygiene training. One of the major reasons is the lack of dedicated IT staff members to supervise security. It’s not that small businesses cannot afford investing in security to detect and avoid intrusion, but they are, to a large extent, oblivious to the security risks involved.
Often, when organizations do get attacked by ransomware, they readily pay the ransom, especially small businesses, when the exhorted amount is not too large and also because small companies often cannot afford to forfeit access to their information, files or IT systems. Also, they typically can not afford losing time in recovering or recreating their lost resources. To get rid of the problem, paying is the easiest solution available to them. Although this also leads to them being branded as a ‘paying customer’ subsequently encouragers to make more attacks.
What Will Come Next?
We cannot guess what ransomware will look like in the future, but it is evident that over the years, attacks have become more planned and targeted, and require minor infrastructure to be deployed. Ransomware-as-a-service is a thing you can buy now, where you can have live chat support to receive payment!
How Can You Shield Yourself From Ransomware Attacks?
In an ideal world, each online business would grow not just a business plan, but also a data strategy. They should have a thorough understanding of all the information they have, where it is stored, how they can access it, as well as who can access it. It is highly beneficial to adopt secure software for threat intrusion, detection and prevention. Also backing up software is critical, so that you can preserve data even after a cyber attack.
In an event of a cyber attack, like ransomware attacks, online businesses must contact their IT vendors and have them isolate systems, take them offline, wipe the systems, and execute restorations.
Whether an online business chooses cloud-based or physical data backups depends on the measure of data an organization utilizes, and how frequently the business needs to back up its data. Either way, it is recommended to have multiple copies of data in multiple sites.
Online businesses are the nerve-endings of the economy, and becoming cyber-empowered is crucial to understanding the solutions available and using them to protect themselves from cyber-attacks.