Ransomware Attacks and Protection: Past and Present

Over the last couple of decades, ransomware has been a daunting threat to enterprises and individuals alike. 

Cybercrime is on the rise. Sadly, those who commit ransomware attacks are turning to savvier methods to monetize their crimes. This can make it difficult for businesses to protect themselves against attacks that could paralyze their operations. 

Needless to say, adequate protection is crucial to mitigating the risk. So, in this article, we’ll examine both the past and the present of ransomware attacks and explore how you can protect yourself.

Let’s dive in!

What’s Ransomware?

Ransomware is malicious software that seeks to access systems and block its owners from accessing and operating them. The files or devices are then held hostage in exchange for ransom money.

When paid, the attackers provide a decryption key that releases the files. Like other malware, ransomware can be caught via carriers such as email attachments, messages, and pop-ups.

A History of Ransomware Attacks

Joseph Popp committed the first ransomware attack in 1989. He was an AIDS researcher who distributed the malware via 20,000 floppy disks amongst other researchers in more than 90 countries.

Popp claimed the disk contained a way to analyze an individual’s risk of contracting AIDS through a questionnaire. The malware program on the disks remained dormant on the computers until the machines were powered up another 90 times.

Afterward, it awakened to demand money from users. The attack became known as the AIDS Trojan.

This attack set the stage for many more ransomware attempts to come. 

It’s now possible for attackers with less technical skill to download and deploy toolkits for ransomware attacks.

Ransomware is even offered as a service—for example, CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, or Locky. Cryptowall alone has gathered over $320 million.

The FBI’s internet crime complaint center (IC3) received 1,783 ransomware complaints in 2017. These cost victims more than $2.3 million.

Ransomware Attacks Today

Nowadays, ransomware attackers demand around $500 for software release compared to the $300 that was the average in the mid-2000s. 2020 saw the highest increase in ransomware attacks compared to previous years.

Attacks have recently doubled in number. This can be attributed to the increase in home-office working due to the pandemic and the chaos caused by cybercriminals this year.

Protecting Your Business from Ransomware

Ransomware can be immensely challenging to prevent, yet it’s the best way to save your business a considerable sum should they fall victim to an attack.

You can take proactive steps to lower the odds by installing an antivirus across all business endpoints.

It’s also essential to ensure all team members know your security measures and stress the importance of not clicking unknown links and attachments in emails. 

Other steps worth taking include:

  • Patching often exploited third party software like Java, Flash, and Adobe
  • Restricting administrative rights on endpoints
  • Putting in place GPO restrictions
  • Regularly backing up data

Of course, there are other measures you can take. But these are a great starting point.

Are You Ready to Protect Your Business?

In case of and to prevent a disaster, Pegasus Technologies can help with recovery, backup, and protection. We offer 24/7 support and services to assist with your defense needs.

For more information about ransomware, please feel free to contact us today!

Pegasus Technologies is the IT Team for organizations that don’t need a full-time IT department. Our technology experts build you a technology plan to keep your business running at its best. We have offices in Kennett Square, PA, Media, PA, and Wayne, PA to provide better computer support and IT services to you.