Cyberattacks: Ransomware and Phishing How to protect your company?

Have you heard of cyberattacks with ransomware or phishing? These are the main means by which hackers access people’s files and computers. Stay one step ahead of hackers and know how they operate to protect you.

Who doesn’t care about their online safety? Much of our life happens online, from work to entertainment. We all have valuable data online. That is why it is important to be aware of the latest cyberattacks with ransomware to know how hackers operate and thus be a step forward.

Why are cyberattacks on the rise?

Hacker planning a cyberattack with ransomware

If you are not aware of cybersecurity news, you may be passing important information that could free you from a cyberattack. Internet security goes beyond installing an antivirus, and that’s what recent cyber attacks show us.

Throughout 2021 there were a number of cyberattacks on businesses and the U.S. government. This was very serious because they were cyberattacks with ransomware. Why did this happen? Well, in the United States there are very strict security rules for government agencies, however, a lot of government providers are private companies. This means they are not required to meet the same requirements. This left entries open for attackers.

Why don’t they meet the safety guidelines of the rest of the government to avoid cyberattacks with ransomware? Well, these can be very expensive. In addition, a single company tends to have many other suppliers, making it difficult to ensure that the necessary protective measures are being followed throughout the supply chain. In fact, it is estimated that this is one of the reasons for the increase in attacks: relying on third parties for data management.

Moreover, following the pandemic caused by COVID-19, in recent years most companies have changed their working model. Many people now work 100% from home or manage a hybrid model between office and home. However, by using home internet connections, companies are exposed to insecure connections that leave the door open to attackers.

Another factor why cyberattacks are on the rise is because they are in fact a business. We can see cyberattacks like any other illegal organized crime operation. Behind a cyberattack there are many people, not only hackers but developers of viruses and malware, as well as those who manage illegal payment networks and chat rooms on the Deep Web to extort money. It is a very lucrative business because of the vulnerability of the networks and because it is difficult to condemn those responsible for a cyberattack. The laws are not moving at the speed necessary to protect us from these crimes.

What leaves us so vulnerable is a gap between the advancement of technology and our ability to protect ourselves. On the one hand, we increasingly rely on online programs and platforms to work or to live together socially, however, few implement the necessary security measures to use them safely.

Who are the most vulnerable?

Anyone can be the victim of a cyberattack. However, there has been a growing interest in hackers entering government as well as business systems. These two are of great interest as they require online infrastructure to work. Especially governments are easy to extort because they have against them the need to provide resources to cities.

As mentioned before, one of the weak points of these occurs when they have suppliers that do not implement security measures. Thus, while it would be far more lucrative to extort billions from Jeff Bezos, it is small businesses that require more tertiary suppliers, and this exposes them to more attacks. Many times, a data hijacking can cost a company its final closure because ransoms are too expensive to pay. The alternative to paying the ransom is to repair the problem caused by the malicious program, however, these costs go up rather than paying the ransom.

If you have a small business and want to protect your business from a cyberattack, follow these recommendations:

• Focus on your own safety

• Work on your phishing email detection capabilities

• Implement programs that help you detect the presence of attackers in your connections

• Make sure your suppliers apply strict security practices.

However, first of all to recognize a cyberattack you have to know what you look like. How does a cyberattack happen? By what means? Below, we’ll look at some of the hackers' favorite methods for conducting cyberattacks.

What is a Phishing?

Person recieving a Phishing email that might lead to cyberattack with ransomware

Phishing is one of the most popular scam techniques in the history of the internet. This is a fake email that usurps the identity of someone you know or some organization. What it seeks is to deceive the recipient of the mail so that it gives really important information so that it can carry out a theft.

An email of this type can be recognized by the following features:

• You have spelling mistakes or in general the wording is rare or confusing. This might look like this:

"Deer Mr. Alvares,

We inform you of an unrrecognized charge to your card..."

•             The name of the organization or the email from which it comes is written in a strange way. For example, if we imagine that your bank is called Secure Bank but the email address it comes from is this: [email protected] and the signature is Securebank. These would be grounds to suspect Phishing.

•             There is some subtle error in the logo of the organization you are impersonating. For example a change in color tone or unusual delineation in letters.

•             The URL you’re trying to target is typed incorrectly or has the organization’s name wrong. If your bank is called Secure Bank and you know that its site is www.securebank.com, you should be suspicious of links such as: www.secure_bank_atm.com

Some of the most common issues with phishing emails are:

• We inform you of the suspension of your account

• Two-factor authentication (hackers know this authentication method is the most popular and use it to trick).

• Refund of taxes

• Confirmation of orders

To protect yourself from such a cyberattack, here’s what you should do:

• Always check the email address of who is sending you the mail

• Never click on any link without first reading it to look for errors

• Communicate directly with the organization that claims to be contacting you to verify that they are indeed them.

• Make a review of the signs of phishing

• If you mistakenly click on a suspicious link, do not enter any data, close your browser and run your antivirus.

• If you suspect that there is a malicious program that has entered your computer through phishing, do an antivirus scan and a backup of your files, immediately change your passwords.

• Inform your team members and your company about these measures to detect phishing and talk with your suppliers about their security measures.

This is the most basic form of phishing; however, emails of this type have become sophisticated and through them you can download ransomware that hijacks important information from a person or company. At the same time, many Phishing emails no longer need you to give data, but simply click on a link or open the mail. For these cases it is necessary to carefully check the email of the sender before opening it.

Cyberattacks with Ransomware

Lines of code to represent vulnerabilities that might allow a cyberattack with ransomware

Since 2018, cyberattacks with ransomware have become more common. Hackers have sophisticated their techniques to introduce these types of malwares and make big profits. But what is a ransomware?

Ransomware comes from the word "ransom" which means "ransom" and "software". That is, this is a type of malware that asks for a ransom for user data. When such programs reach the people’s computers, they take over the files preventing the person from having access. This happens many times through encrypting the files or blocking the main screen of the computer.

The program itself will request a payment to release the hijacked files. Accessing to pay will take you to a Deep Web chat to reach some agreement with the attackers. Payments are usually given in cryptocurrencies through channels that are difficult to track. Sometimes negotiations can be made by a third-party expert in cases of cyberattacks with ransomware. These experts help arrive at payments that will not bankrupt the company.

On the other hand, many would expect to be able to recover their equipment without accessing the bribes of these people. However, sometimes the cost of decrypting files from a computer that has been attacked is more expensive than paying the ransom. Moreover, this does not ensure that the security of equipment and connections is restored.

Many people after a cyberattack with ransomware are left with a feeling of anxiety. Some psychological studies suggest that they are feelings similar to those of a physical abduction. This happens because the privacy violation is so deep that it leaves people feeling insecure and unable to trust their computers again. If they already went in once, they could do it again, they could be doing it right now. Those are the fears the victims of the attacks are left with.

This was the method by which hackers brought a series of recent cyberattacks to the US government. Detecting vulnerabilities in their connections and web hosts managed to hijack data from the system by threatening to retain them or to reveal the private information they had access to in case they failed to comply with the payment.

In fact, in late 2021 a vulnerability flaw was detected in Log4j, an open-source library of Apache, which helps monitor errors in the operation of a site. This library includes codes used almost universally and that a vulnerability is found by which hackers can take advantage and perform a cyberattack with ransomware is very dangerous. The fault was named Log4Shell and it is not really known if the problem will be solved in its entirety or if everyone with Log4j code will be forever exposed to this type of attack. The best thing any company can do is to check if they have these lines of code and update them to the version where Log4Shell has been corrected.

Either way, Log4Shell will not be the only vulnerability that hackers are worth for a ransomware cyberattack. In fact, they have recently used phishing emails to get ransomware to victims. That is why we must constantly run security rounds and implement security strategies that allow for a continuous care of online security.

Conclusions

Multiple monitors to represnet the work space of a hacker that plots cyberattacks with ransomware

As we move our lives to the digital world, security systems will become increasingly important. Our digital advances and the comforts we have online must be accompanied by good security practices, only in this way can cyberattacks like those that have occurred recently with ransomware be avoided.

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Full-stack developer with a good understanding of business challenges. Not only am I an expert in my field, I know what business needs in a competitive digital world. I am eager to work on all kinds of projects.

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