5 Common Ways Ransomware Spreads

5 Common Ways Ransomware Spreads

Ransomware is becoming the most dangerous threat by cybercriminals trying their luck for easy money. Ransomware attacks directly target victims by encrypting their computer files and holding them for ransom. 

The idea is that you must pay, or else your network will forever be held hostage. Although you cannot protect your network against all the methods criminals have to deploy their attacks, it is helpful to understand how these attacks spread. 

1. Emails

Ransomware attacks are often distributed through email. These emails typically encourage the recipient to open an attachment or click a link that carries malicious software. They may look like very common email attachments, including PDFs, Word documents, ZIP files, etc. However, once the attachment or link is opened, the attack can be deployed at any time.  

Ransomware attacks are usually carried out by attackers that research their victims to create emails that look legitimate and very believable. The more credible the email seems the more likely the target is to click the attachment.

2. Malicious URLs

Another tactic used by cyberattackers is the use of malicious links to deploy ransomware through social media and other messaging applications. To encourage the victim to click the malicious URL, the messages are made to appear very urgent or appealing to the target. 

Clicking on the link triggers the ransomware download, which then encrypts your system and holds your data for ransom. 

So, sometimes people are casually slipping into your DMs offering to make you famous, but other times they’re criminals attempting to deploy a ransomware attack – Beware!

3. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

If your office space is now in your home because you’re a remote worker, RDP has become a growing tactic for cybercriminals to deploy a ransomware attack. RDP allows users to connect to an in-office device from anywhere with an internet connection. Criminals can infiltrate a network connection that may be weak; or by physically connecting to the machine that they are attempting to compromise. 

If successful, the criminals can gain the ability to disable your anti-virus software, delete your backups, and install the ransomware into your machine. 

The kicker is that they may leave a “backdoor” that they can use for potential future attacks.

4. USB drives and portable computers

Another common method for deploying a ransomware attack is by utilizing a USB drive or a laptop to spread the malicious software. Connecting the infected device can lead to the ransomware encrypting the device and potentially spreading across the organization’s network. 

So, an employee could be responsible for installing the malware on a company’s network entirely by accident as they wouldn’t know it’s on the USB or portable computer. Once this happens, the ransomware will start to infiltrate local files to encrypt data.  

5. Malvertising (Malicious Advertising) 

Malvertising is becoming a popular method for cybercriminals to deliver a ransomware attack. These advertisements appear to be legitimate, and, in fact, they are legitimate advertisements displayed on the internet like any other. However, these ads are linked to an exploit kit. So, when you click on the ad, the malicious software scans your system to detect a vulnerability. That vulnerability is then exploited for the ransomware attack. 

Your company needs to prioritize its security to prevent cyberattacks in a technologically driven world. If your data is encrypted and held for ransom, your business operations could face challenges it cannot endure. 

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