The Evolution of Ransomware and What It Means for Your Business

Ransomware attacks have been a hot topic in the news these days, but this type of malicious activity has actually been happening for years.  Over time, it has become more sophisticated, and the attacks are more damaging than ever.  The best way for business leaders to prevent a threat to their company is to understand the issue.  In this article, we’ll explore its history and discuss how this type of malicious software has evolved over the years.

Early Ransomware Infections

Some of the first attacks involving ransomware can be traced back to Russia around 2005.  These early attacks probably seem crude by today’s standards– the ransomware was only capable of holding specific files hostage instead of locking users out of their devices.  A file containing a “ransom note” would be uploaded to the victim’s computer, usually demanding payment of a few hundred dollars in return for restored access to the affected files.

The Fear Factor

Not only has ransomware become more technically advanced over the years, but the psychological strategies behind the attacks have grown more insidious as well.  Ransom notes are often designed to look like official messages from law enforcement, instilling fear and panic in victims.  One type of ransomware that spread on the Android platform in 2015 would present victims with what looked like a warning from the FBI, informing them that they had broken the law.  The ransom note asked victims for $500; those who tried to circumvent it and access their data had the ransom increased to $1500.  The ability to change the ransom price depending on the victims’ actions is just one sign of the increasing sophistication of ransomware over the course of a decade.

Current Threats

Today’s ransomware doesn’t just hold your data hostage– it can also destroy it.  Crypto-ransomware appeared on the scene around 2013 with the ability to delete files if victims didn’t pay the ransom.  For companies, the threat of losing their data and possibly going out of business was chilling, and they found themselves motivated to pay increasingly large ransoms just to avoid potential collapse.  One form that has had a devastating effect on businesses in over 150 countries is WannaCry, which spread worldwide in the spring of 2017.  This attack was followed by another ransomware infection known as Petya.  Both attacks took advantage of a little-known Windows vulnerability, infecting unpatched computers and causing billions of dollars in losses associated with lost productivity, investigation, and data restoration.

Looking Ahead

What lies ahead for the future of ransomware?  This malicious activity is likely to continue making the rounds, so it’s important to take a proactive approach to security.  A multi-layered solution is the best way to secure your network, and a strong backup strategy can help protect your most important data.  Ransomware may be a pervasive threat, you can stay one step ahead of attackers and safeguard your business with a robust security solution. EMPR currently sells Trend Micro, which is a perfect solution for ransomware protection. For further information on our other ransomware protection solutions and data backup and recovery services, email us at enterprisesales@emprgroup.com.au or call 1300 134 324.