Ransomware – what to expect in 2020

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Ransomware attacks continue to become more damaging and complex throughout recent years.  According to Cyber Security Ventures, a new organization will fall victim to ransomware every 11 seconds by 2021, with no signs of slowing down. While the primary targets are typically businesses, it is important for everyone to understand the dangers of malicious attacks. 

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user’s files, preventing them from accessing their data or system. The attacker will then use the encrypted files as a means to solicit money from you, in order for you to regain access to the data. Ransomware enters your system through a corrupted file or link, typically through an email. Victims are then given instructions on how to pay the attackers, and this is commonly done via cryptocurrency – namely Bitcoin. The cost per ransom depends on the cybercriminal and the amount of data that is held ransom.

While attacking your personal computer may be the prime goal, the targeting of mobile devices is increasing each month.

Below are some frightening statistics of ransomware from last year:

  • 1 in 10 URL’s are malicious
  • Ransomware attacks have increased by 97% in the past two years
  • 40% of ransomware victims end up paying the amount requested
  • Over 98% of ransomware payments are done in Bitcoin
  • Ransomware costs business over R115 billion in the past year
  • The average costs of ransomware attacks are R1 632 567
  • Ransomware makes up of 56% of malware attacks
  • The global spending on cybersecurity is over $14 billion


There are many different types of ransomware out there, but most fall into the below 3 categories, ranging from annoying to company destroying:

Scareware

Malicious software designed to trick users into believing that they need to buy or download unwanted software through scare tactics such as the perception of a threat on your pc. Most people have experienced scareware at a point during their online activities as it typically comes in the form of a pop-up. The best course of action is to ignore the pop-up, especially since you should already have reputable security software installed.

Screen Lockers

As the name suggests, this ransomware typically locks your screen on your computer while displaying a message designed to scare and threaten you. The most common example of this is users getting a pop-up window telling them they have been involved in illegal activities and claiming to be from a legit legal department. Screen lockers are less common these days but do still affect a number of users each year.

Encryptors

The most common and threatening form of ransomware. As explained above, encrypting ransomware takes your data, encrypts it so that you do not have access to it anymore and forces you to pay in order to decrypt. This method is the most dangerous because once the attackers have your files, there is nothing that you or your security software can do to regain access. Even upon payment, there is no guarantee that the cybercriminals will release your data.

What can you do to stay safe?

Here are some tips that everyone should know:

Never open email attachments from an untrusted source.

Many ransomware attacks happen through email attachments as attackers will disguise the malware as financial or important documents. Always double-check with the sender of the email, if you are unsure.

Never open email attachments from an untrusted source.

Internet security software and anti-virus programs play a huge role in helping you divert these attacks from your personal computer and network. Make sure to always keep them updated with the latest patches.

Do not trust every link.

It is very important to be wary of random links and URLs sent your way. Just like the email attachments, if you do not know or trust the source then it’s always better to verify with the sender and avoid opening anything.

Back up, back up and back up!

Always try to have your latest work and data backed up. Since 100% is almost impossible, the best course is to regularly back and save as you never know when an attack will come.

To conclude, it is of utmost importance to protect yourself, your business and your loved ones from cybercrime.

The best tool is always awareness and educating yourself and those around you. If you would like more tips and recommendations on keeping yourself, as well as your business, safe from cybercriminals, read our previous blog on how you can protect your business from cybercrime.

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