Ways hackers install ransomware onto your network

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Hackers are constantly developing ransomware that can sneak past even your latest detection and recovery tools and techniques in place. As ransomware evolve, they become harder to identify, and encrypted files more difficult to recover.

It used to be quite easy to spot ransomware activity because it used to just overwrite or lock the file system. Now, hackers have made ransomware much less predictable and therefore more difficult to detect. Here are some of the new ways hackers install ransomware onto your system.

#1 Phishing emails

Employees who are well-versed in cyberattacks are less likely to click on suspicious links in any email they receive. Hackers know this, too, so they create a compelling reason for your employees to take the bait. They pretend to be an organization that needs urgent attention, such as a client, a bank, or even a boss in your own company. Phishing attacks mostly rely on human curiosity and impulses, making them difficult to stop.

At first glance, phishing email seems legitimate, but on a closer look, you’ll see that they’re using a fake email address, usually just a misspelled version of the original. There will be an attachment or link in the email, which will install malware on your computer when clicked.

#2 Drive-by downloading

Drive-by downloading happens when a user visits an infected website and unknowingly downloads and installs malware. With this kind of malware infection, the “I don’t visit nasty websites so there’s no way I can get infected” argument won’t work. With this tactic, you can get your systems hacked literally without you doing anything.

This malware can be found anywhere, even on your trusted news website. Once you’re on their page, some “exploit kit” starts scanning your computer for potential “security vulnerabilities.” Before you know it, the malware has taken advantage of one of your IT weaknesses to infiltrate your system and take control of it.

You probably think, how is this possible? Over time, hackers have refined their tactics and found several ways to spread malware without the need for user interaction. Cybercriminals can compromise websites and embed malware. This isn’t due to the website owners’ inability to protect their website. It’s just that no software is flawless, and hackers can easily use these flaws to their advantage.

#3 Crypto ransomware

Ransomware don’t need access to your systems, devices, or network for it to infect them. There is a variant of malware that can encrypt files through social media and web-based instant messaging apps. Such type of ransomware is called crypto ransomware, a malware that encrypts your critical data without affecting your basic computer functions.

Crypto creators usually include a countdown when demanding a ransom. If you don’t pay before the deadline, you’ll lose all your files. This is why it’s important to back up files to an external storage device. Without backups, organizations are forced to pay the ransom because they won’t have any other way to get their data back. Unfortunately for victims of ransomware, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that they’ll get their data back.

#4 Vulnerable web servers

In 2016, the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy fell victim to the reinvented ransomware variant that evolved from infecting PCs to infecting websites — CTB-Locker. The CTB Locker ransomware encrypts files on WordPress-run sites and replaces the index.php with a file that can deface the website to display a ransom note.

Hackers infect the web servers by renaming the target site from index.php or index.html to original_index.php or original_index.html. They then upload a new index.php that contains the encryption, decryption, and displays of the ransom note for the hacked site. Unfortunately, it’s still unknown how the cybercriminals manage to inject and install the malware onto websites.

If you want to protect your company from cybercriminals, implement a comprehensive security scheme that goes beyond running the basic security applications. Partner with Integrated Technology Services and build multiple security layers around your business. We will protect your from all forms of malware, including viruses, spam, worms, trojans, and ransomware. Call us today!