The Rise of Ransomware

Ransomware

IT security company KnowBe4 has issued a warning regarding a new strain of ransomware called VirRansom, which “utilizes both ransomware and parasitic virus features,” according to a statement released Monday, Dec. 8 by CEO Stu Sjouwerman. As a self-replicating program, this particular strain has the potential to lock up a company’s entire system, demanding a BitCoin payment to free the files.

Ransomware is a brazen, yet effective approach to sabotaging a company’s operations by placing all of its files under an encryption key. The organizations behind its deployment often hide their identities within the anonymity of Tor, and demand payment in trackless virtual currency.

The ease by which a ransomware virus can spread has become a troubling problem for IT managers, given the complete interconnectedness of employees, through a variety of personal and company-issued devices as well as across a networks, both internal and cloud-based.

A recent story, covered by NPR, highlighted a company that was presented with a 72-hour countdown clock, which pointed to a deadline at which its files would be encrypted. The business in question was not large – not a typical target for hackers, but was one that found itself at the mercy of extortionists due to a simple human error: a phishing email that resembled a PayPal payment notification appeared in an employee inbox, and once clicked, activated the ransom note and timer.

VirRansom CEO Sjouwerman points out that these types of attacks are very difficult for antivirus companies to keep up with. Quoted in a story at CBS News online, he suggests companies take the following steps to protect themselves in advance:

1. Test the restore function of your backups and make sure it works, and have a full set of backups offsite.

2. Start thinking about asynchronous real-time backups so you can restore files with a few mouse clicks.

3. Get rid of mapped drives and use UNC (universal naming convention) links for shared folders.

4. Look into Whitelisting software that only allows known-good executables to run.

5. Update or enforce security policy best practices, such as thorough security awareness training to prevent these types of infections to begin with because the infection vector is your end-user opening up an attachment or clicking on a link.

Rahul Kashyap, a researcher at the cybersecurity firm Bromium, adds that the programs inside ransomware viruses are getting better at locating high-value files, explaining to NPR that there is greater value in finding autocad files, for example, than regular memos.

Experts are divided as to whether ransoms should be paid, some believing this merely funds more sophisticated crime tools. However all of them agree that the best defence is an offline reproduction of everything a company needs to operate – and that means completely offline.

By Steve Prentice

Episode 5: How the Pandemic is Changing Business and the Cloud

An Interview with Ed Dryer of Steadfast With the global pandemic wreaking havoc on business ...

Episode 6: Cloud Migration: Why It’s More Important Than Ever

The Importance of Cloud Migration Moving fully to the cloud is still a concern for ...

Episode 1: Why Small and Medium Sized Businesses Need an MSP

Small and Medium Sized Businesses Need an MSP Small and medium-sized businesses don’t enjoy the ...
Mark Barrenechea

So are Bad and Stranger Things—the Negative Impact of Technology

Negative Impact of Technology Cyberattacks and information breaches are happening every day, from influencing the outcomes of elections to bringing down businesses to massive data ...
Patrick Joggerst

Session Border Control as a Service: Faster, More Secure and Dramatically Less Complex Enterprise Communications

Session Border Control as a Service As businesses are increasingly moving to cloud-based unified communications (UC) for improved collaboration and productivity, they must also ensure ...
Juan Pablo Perez Etchegoyen

7 Security and Compliance Considerations for Cloud-Based Business Applications  

Security and Compliance Considerations There’s no doubt on-premises deployments of mission-critical business applications provide more control over data as it resides within the four walls ...
Steve Prentice

Episode 5: How the Pandemic is Changing Business and the Cloud

An Interview with Ed Dryer of Steadfast With the global pandemic wreaking havoc on business and society, everything is changing. Ed Dryer, Senior Technology Strategist ...
Marty

How cloud technologies improve innovation in the healthcare industry?

How cloud technologies improve innovation in the healthcare industry? The uptake of VPS hosting in the cloud within the heavily regulated healthcare industry has until ...
Best Wordpress Alternatives

Managed Cloud WordPress Hosting Services

Managed Hosting Providers Managed cloud servers are becoming especially popular among startups and other small businesses concerned about Web security. Prior to managed hosting services, ...
Bigcommerce

Magento 1 Is Nearing Its End – Is It Time To Migrate To BigCommerce?

Time To Migrate To BigCommerce? Nearly three years ago, Magento declared that they would be ending support for their Magento 1 software. All versions of ...
Aruna Headshot

2019 Predictions for Innovating, Transforming and Enabling Workplace Transformation

My Predictions for 2019 As we think of the top Collaboration trends for the coming year, we should start by taking a look back at ...
Kayla Matthews

5 Cybersecurity Trends Defining 2019

5 Cybersecurity Trends The cybersecurity industry continually evolves to meet changing needs and adopt new technologies. As such, it's appropriate to take a look at ...
Dan Saks 1

How the Cloud Will Transform in the Next Decade

Transformative Cloud Silicon Valley is easy to stereotype: the gadgets, the startup perks, the culture and mentality. However, the real reason Silicon Valley captures headlines ...