Forthright’s Senior Systems Administrator Andrew Pantaleon defines targeted and non-targeted ransomware attacks in an article explaining this cybersecurity menace to college students at Rasmussen University. Businesses, even the average person, should be aware of ransomware threats. You risk losing not only data, but also revenue while recovering from an attack, explains Pantaleon.
The first step in combating cyber-attacks is education. It’s critical to know the possible ways attackers target potential victims in order to protect yourself and your business. Pantaleon offers the following explanation of ransomware types. Read the entire article.
Two Main Types of Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks are either targeted or nontargeted. Both aim to lock away data and extort payment, however the approach to get to this point is very different.
In the article, Pantaleon describes both types of ransomware attacks.
A targeted attack is more of a precision operation, like surgery, according to Pantaleon. “Targeted attacks involve an attacker actively looking for targets to launch ransomware on and will be much more sophisticated in how the attack is run.” In these cases, attackers may have access to a company network for weeks before they launch the attack. They learn about the systems, eliminate security measures and backups, and generally do all they can to make paying a ransom the only way out.
“The attackers will target things like financial data, personnel data—including social security numbers of employees—as well as possible trade secrets of a company,” Pantaleon explains. “They will leverage this stolen data, along with the ransomware, to further try to coerce companies into paying using the threat of leaking or selling this data on the dark web.”
Nontargeted attacks are more about casting a wide net and hoping to catch a target. Pantaleon says attackers can attempt this in many different ways, but phishing emails and fake advertisements are most effective. “An attacker will send thousands of generic emails to random people hoping that a handful of users will click a link or download an attached file that is malicious and will start the ransomware attack.”
Attackers use phishing emails with messages like “You just won $1000! Click here to claim your prize!” or more official-sounding things pretending to be your bank, your boss or the IRS to try and trick users, according to Pantaleon.
Is your business vulnerable? And what can you do about it?
Security and IT professionals routinely combat ransomware in two ways: preventing the ransomware itself and mitigating the impact of ransomware once it is executed. There are several ways your business may be vulnerable to cyber attacks. However, there are things you can do to protect your business:
- Deploy anti-virus software to detect and stop ransomware from running in the first place.
- Train users/employees to be vigilant about screening emails and links they receive to be completely sure they are legitimate.
- Strengthen security to prevent an attacker’s ability to access your IT environment.
The best way to mitigate the impact of ransomware is to backup your systems and secure data in a separate location. Up-to-date and secure backups remove the attacker’s leverage. In other words, when a cyber criminal locks up your data it becomes inconvenient rather than catastrophic. A backup strategy not only helps companies avoid data loss but also allows Security/IT professionals for quick recovery – avoiding extended downtime and loss of revenue for employers and clients.
Next steps to protect your business.
Contact the Forthright cybersecurity team for a free risk assessment of your IT environment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Give your business the best chance at avoiding or recovering quickly from a ransomware attack.
Forthright Technology Partners is a leading provider of solutions and services leveraging Citrix, VMware and Microsoft technologies where high availability and exceptional end-user experience are required.