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The Path to a Ransomware Attack

Corey Skrede
3 min read
Aug 3, 2022 9:36:00 AM
This post covers:Your Business. Secure. | Managed IT

How it happens, the consequences, and the solutions

No one wants to deal with a ransomware attack in their organization. If it’s successful, the attack will not only be a major drain on company resources but will also create complications that could reverberate for ages. Even worse, it could put an organization out of business. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small and midsized companies will go out of business within six months of an attack.

Behind the scenes of a ransomware attack

Stopping cybercrime is difficult because new ransomware gangs crop up constantly. They can form organically, spawn from other groups, or emerge as a new version of another big player. No matter how the group develops, a ransomware attack starts with the formation of a squad of attackers. And even cybercriminals are outsourcing these days. Most ransomware gangs recruit affiliates to conduct the actual attacks. It’s standard practice for big ransomware outfits to hire help and acquire resources in dark web forums.

How a ransomware attack starts

Ransomware is almost always the poisonous cargo of a phishing attack. Cybercriminals use the information they gathered from the dark web and other sources to carefully craft a phishing email that will be especially appealing to your employees. The email makes it past your security and lands in your employees’ inboxes. One of your employees takes the bait, opens the email, and interacts with it by visiting a poisoned website or opening a tainted attachment. The malicious payload infects the computer, and the computer then establishes a connection with the cybercriminals’ network to encrypt your data, and in some instances, publish your data on the internet for all to see.

The bad guys demand payment

If the attack is successful, cybercriminals will demand payment. The bad actors may demand payment for a decryption key to unlock systems and data or for the safe return or destruction of the stolen data. The most common type of attack now involves double extortion. In this scenario, the cybercriminals demand two payments from the victim – typically one payment for the decryptor and a second payment to stay quiet about the victim’s security failure.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Compliant Center (IC3) broke down the cybercrimes recorded by the Bureau in 2021. IC3 received 847,376 complaints in 2021, a record number that’s up 7% from 2020. Even more alarming was the dollar amount. The total amount of loss reported hit a new record high in 2021 of $6.9 billion, a 48% increase from 2020.

The payment fallout

Unfortunately, many who fall victim to ransomware choose to pay extortionists. This brings negative consequences for everyone. When the bad guys receive a payout, the scheme works, and they continue to use it. But paying up doesn’t usually solve the problem for the victim. Even if a ransomware victim pays, the data may have already been copied or the bad actors may have left a backdoor into your system to return later.

It's also illegal. In October 2020, The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that paying ransom to cybercriminals is unlawful.

Businesses suffer negative consequences

The outcome of a ransomware attack can vary by organization. A snapshot of what companies might expect after a ransomware incident includes data loss, downtime, lost profits, reputation damage, and compliance failure. The expense of a ransomware incident also snowballs in the aftermath, leaving a variety of challenges in any organization.

Smart solutions to avoid ransomware

The best offense is a good defense. Instead of paying extortionists, invest in strong security measures now to prevent future attacks.

Since phishing is the most likely way for a ransomware attack to start, phishing simulations through Security Education & Awareness Training are effective at reducing an organization’s risk by making employees better at spotting and stopping phishing.

Locknet Managed IT’s Security Education and Awareness Training program is the ideal solution for businesses of any size.

  • Bolster your defense by creating a “human firewall.”
  • Pre-test simulated phishing attacks to identify how phish-prone your organization is currently.
  • Employees will learn how to identify common threat tactics such as social engineering, phishing, spoofing, and ransomware.
  • A 36-month online training program includes case studies, live demonstration videos, and final tests to ensure employees retain the information.

As employees are armed with the necessary cybersecurity knowledge, the stronger your first line of defense will become. However, human error happens, and you should always have a plan B in place.

Locknet Managed IT’s Managed Detection and Response Service can help protect your business with monitoring and detection if threats like Ransomware slip past your “human firewall.”

  • 24/7/365 monitoring
  • Stops hidden threats that sneak past other security tools
  • Detects, analyzes, and responds to attacks through both human intelligence and automated technology

Partnering with Locknet’s team of trusted professionals can provide businesses with smart solutions to help avoid ransomware. By instituting proper education practices along with a vigilant monitoring and detection solution, you can help prevent security threats from happening and quickly mitigate any damage if they do. Contact us to learn more.



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