Danger: Ransomware Poses Increased Threat to Businesses

Be proactive against attacks.

Jul 17, 2018

In a previous article, we discussed the broad topic of cyber-security. Today, let’s tackle  the growing threat of ransomware attacks, an increasingly more sophisticated form of malware that can hold data captive.

According to CSO, "Ransomware is a form of malicious software (or malware) that, once it's taken over your computer, threatens you with harm, preventing you from accessing your data. The attacker demands a ransom from the victim, promising — not always truthfully — to restore access to the data upon payment."

Ransomware: A Brief Historical Perspective

Ironically, ransomware infections were first noted in Russia between 2005-2006. This early version was known for hijacking files with specific extensions, zipping the files, overwriting the original files, and deleting them from a computer. Then, a ransom note was sent demanding $300.

After a successful debut in Russia, cyber criminals jumped on the bandwagon and in 2012, ransomware spread throughout Europe and North America. A steady evolution since then has created several variants of the nasty bug.

Varieties of Ransomware

  • Reveton masquerades as law enforcement that accuses victims of an online illegal act; this virus has several dangerous variants.
  • In 2013, CryptoLocker emerged and targeted removable drives. Users receive  instructions on how to pay a fee for a decryption key. The ransom can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, payable to cyber criminals in Bitcoin.
  • CryptoDefense or Cryptobit "encrypts databases, video, images, scripts, text, and other non-binary files, deletes backup files to prevent restoration of encrypted files, and demands payment for a decryption key to unlock the files.”
  • In 2014, BitCrypt was born, demanding ransom via Bitcoin in order to unlock files.
  • Angler exploit kit, launched in 2015, is the popular go to for today’s cyber thieves. This particular variant attacks popular media such as news websites.

These are but a few of the increasing number of variants that fall under the “ransomware” umbrella. Verizon's Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) reveals that attacks are "moving into business-critical systems, which encrypt file servers or databases, inflicting more damage and commanding bigger ransom requests." And

Trend Micro, Inc.'s analysis shows a 752% increase in the number of ransomware families.

Now more than ever, it's critical that businesses take extra precautions to protect their networks. The below noted recommendations can help protect businesses of any size, as well as individuals, from the ravages of a ransomware attack.

For Corporations

It’s advised that large businesses utilize one of the following email and web gateway solutions:

  • Trend Micro
  • Deep Discovery
  • Email Inspector
  • InterScan 

For Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Trend Micro Worry-Free Services Advanced offers cloud-based email gateway security through Hosted Email Security.

For Individuals

Trend Micro Security 10 offers protection against ransomware by blocking malicious websites, emails, and other files.

Because ransomware poses a serious threat to both businesses and individuals, it’s imperative that everyone apply these precautionary measures—

  • Never open emails that are unfamiliar.
  • Create three backups, each stored in a different location.
  • Regularly update all applications and software.
  • Investigate free tools for legitimacy and safety before downloading them.

Since 1979, Lofton Staffing Services has been offering clients the best of all worlds. Through our responsive service and the flexibility of our small local firm, we are equipped with the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Contact us today.









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