5 Things You Need to Know About the Threat of Ransomware


In one of the latest variety of cyberattacks, U.S. government agencies are being targeted by an extensive ransomware campaign that veer off from previous attacks — embedding malicious URLs in hundreds of thousands of emails. The attack is a more sophisticated approach than the typical ransomware attacks that involve attaching the infected files to the emails.

If a recipient of the emails, which seem to offer a legitimate deal on travel, unwittingly clicks on the email and downloads a word document, they open the door to malicious macros. As with other ransomware attacks, hackers demand payment in Bitcoins to remove the infectious ransomware to unlock the files. According to researchers the tactic of delivering ransomware through embedded URL links is new.

As ransomware continues to evolve, it’s important that you understand the basics of this kind of cyber threat and how it can hold your business operations hostage. Here are 5 things you should know about ransomware, according to Unitrends, which released an infographic highlighting the characteristics of this attack:

1. Ransomware, a form of malware, can be simply defined as an attack that encrypts a target and then demands ransom — payment in bitcoins — to unlock the system. Until then, the computer system is inoperable.

2. Before Cryptolocker, a ransomware trojan that was first detected around 2013, ransomware was not as sophisticated as it is today. In many cases, ransomware was easy to remove or entirely avoid. However, this ransomware is more difficult to avoid and is able to extort users through bitcoins. Cryptolocker and similar trojans like TorrentLocker, CBT-Locker, and CryptoWall, all use strong unbreakable encryption like 256 bit AES.

3. To guard against ransomware, it’s important to use antivirus software; ensure that all software and operating systems are up-to-date; and train employees on security procedures.

4. As part of a strong ransomware defense, it’s critical to deploy countermeasures that block a ransomware attack. This can include installing firewalls, blocking binaries from popular ransomware installation paths and disabling ActiveX content in Microsoft Office applications.

5. Developing a strong backup system can be a significant line of defense against ransomware attacks.

For more on how you can protect your systems against ransomware, contact us at Innovative.

About Tony Johnson

Innovative helps you balance your business requirements, service levels, staff and infrastructure to make your IT as effective as possible. Tony Johnson is Vice President of Operations at Innovative and has been helping clients optimize their IT spend and operations since 1983.

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