Ransomware is immortal! Yes, no matter how uncanny it sounds but we must embrace this fact. The repercussions of ransomware are spreading across the globe and showing no signs of slackening. A barrage of cyber extortion schemes along with eye popping statistics keep sweeping every single day and we don’t have the slightest clue when all this will come to an end. Our dependence on technology have tied our hands, wherein paying the ransom becomes the last resort.
2017 can be marked as “The year of Ransomware” where we witnessed some massive ransomware attacks in the history. Amongst recent ransomware attacks WannaCry has turned out to bet the most crippling one. It shook the entire world this weekend. More than 200,000 devices in 150 countries were affected, including hospitals, banks and major telecom industries.
Here’s a small overview which lists down latest ransomware attacks of 2017 currently making big waves in headlines and how they affected our lives.
Recent Ransomware Attacks 2017:-
1. Genesis of WannaCry Ransomware
The WannaCry ransomware outbreak is a wake-up call for the world. WannaCry, also known as WanaCrypt0r 2.0, is able to get into Microsoft Windows systems by exploiting a vulnerability called EternalBlue, as reported by NSA. It highlights not only our interconnectedness and dependency on technology but the massive challenge we face in securing the software systems we rely on.
Here’s How It Works:
WannaCry which derives from WannaCrytpt or WannaCyptor first, locks up your computer until the owner agrees to pay the ransom. And yes, the longer you wait the more you suffer. Cyber criminals are demanding ransom of 300$ in the form of bitcoin currency to set your computer free. If you don’t pay up, then after a week the hackers threaten you to permanently delete all your data and important files. Although, we ‘ve been hearing the “Don’t pay the ransom” catchphrase all our lives, but seems like some users have already paid 50,000$ bitcoin in ransom so far.
Many major corporate ventures got snagged up in this recent ransomware attack which includes Fedex, Deutshce Bahn, Fatam Airlines from South Africa and more.
It Gets Worse:
Even if one computer takes the bait and click on any phishy email, then all the interconnected systems on LAN will be infected immediately. It mainly targets old, unpatched version of Windows and the reason being their exposed vulnerability.
Why Hackers are demanding Bitcoin?
The digital currency is popular among cybercriminals because it is decentralized, unregulated and practically impossible to trace. Although it may seem like a small amount to charge, the ransomware attacks are often widely distributed, so the ransom payments can stack up. Read More.
Microsoft Released an Emergency Patch for Windows:
Who knew one could get in so much trouble for not updating the Windows, right? Microsoft stopped supporting and patching Windows XP 3 years ago. But this attack was so bad that Microsoft had to release an emergency patch for all those business and organizations who currently got affected by this massive cyber extortion scheme.
Over the years, Windows PCs have been a battleground on which these attacks have played out, as hackers have exploited vulnerabilities in operating system. Well, they say it right trouble never knocks the door! We were warned by Microsoft 3 years ago that using Windows XP is not safe anymore, but unfortunately all those hospitals which were affected happen to be using older versions of Windows only.
How to Protect Yourself from WannaCry Ransomware?
As emails were the prime source of how this nasty virus spread across the world, the best way to protect yourself is to be suspicious of unsolicited emails. Always type out web addresses yourself rather than clicking on links. Another key defense is antivirus programs that can scan files before they are downloaded, block secret installations and look for malware that may already be on a computer. Organizations have been urged to update their systems immediately to ensure that they are not affected by this recent ransomware attack of 2017.
See Also: Top 5 Ransomware Protection Tools
What to do if your system is already infected by WannaCry?
Well, hard luck with that! Had you have created a prior backup of your data; you may have not been facing so much trouble today. Sadly, there is no fix for WannaCry available till this point of time. Antivirus companies and cybersecurity experts are working hard looking for ways to decrypt files on infected computers, but no means of third-party decryption is available till now.
2. Philadelphia Ransomware—A nightmare to Health Industry
Philadelphia Ransomware was another strain in the list of cyber-attacks, which mainly targeted health industries of Pennsylvania. It is transported via spear-phishing emails. Such emails are then sent to the hospitals with a message body of a shortened URL that directs towards a personal storage space serving a weaponized DOCX file along with a logo of targeted healthcare organization.
And just like all other ransomware attacks, it demanded bitcoin currency as ransom.
3. A Ransomware that demands ‘Monero’ as Ransom
On March 16th 2017, researchers have discovered the most dreadful variant of Ransomware named as Kirk. It is themed after most popular series Star Trek and targets 625 files types and scans C drive to encrypt specific extensions. Once the files are encrypted it adds “.kirked” as extension to the encrypted file name. Read More.
4. The Rise of “Doxware”
Another ransomware on our list of recent ransomware attacks 2017 includes Doxware. It is actually based on the word “Dox” which involves a practice of publishing private content of an individual on the internet with a malicious intent. It can involve personal information about people can include real name, phone number, credit card number anything. So, if a person is “doxed”, all their personal information is made available for all users to see. Read More.
So here were a few ransomware variants that we witnessed this year! Such examples represent dark new developments in the evolution of ransomware.
Best Practices to Adopt while Dealing with Ransomware
As ransomware is going through a scary evolution in more intrusive and damaging forms here are few practices to adopt to keep cyber criminals away.
- Beware of Suspicious Email Links and Attachments
As we’re all aware that Email was the prime means how global ransomware attack WannaCry spread rapidly across the globe, we should be extra careful now. Do NOT open any suspicious attachment or link which doesn’t appear legitimate in first glance. If an email appears to have come from your bank, credit card company or internet service provider, keep in mind that they will never ask for sensitive information like your password or social security number. Always remember!
- Update Your Software
Another loophole that came along with this recent ransomware attack was outdated version of Windows. In other words, if people had simply stayed on top of security updates, their machines would not have been infected. Hence, take this as a wakeup call and update all your software and systems on priority.
- Install and Update Your Antivirus
In addition to keeping Windows up-to-date with the latest security enhancements, antivirus software can prevent malware from infecting your computer. Of course, with antivirus software, the same principle applies: Make sure to keep the antivirus app up-to-date, too, so it blocks the latest emerging malware.
- Backup all your Data
Creating a copy of your data in the first place always gives you an added advantage. You never have to worry about paying huge ransom amount to cyber crooks. So, that even if a hacker locks down your computer, you could simply restore it from your backup. One such nifty tool is Ransomware Protector which backs up all your valuable data on cloud servers which you can access from any other system from any part of the world.
Usually, Ransomware infections are sent via email attachments, are embedded in suspicious websites as well as online advertisements. Ransomware can also be bundled with software programs and once executed, it locks out the user from accessing their own files. So, imagine if you already have a backup of your data you won’t have to keep anything on stake.
Now that you know what’s coming next and combat against any potential danger. In future, if any latest ransomware attack pops out you know how to give it back to notorious hackers.
Don’t Face challenges by being “Reactive”, be proactive and smash em’ before even they arrive!