What is Crypto Ransomware?

What is Crypto Ransomware

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Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. Cryptocurrency is often used as the payment method for the ransom, hence the name “crypto-ransomware.”

Crypto-ransomware infects a victim’s computer and uses strong encryption algorithms to encrypt the victim’s files. The attackers then demand a ransom payment for the decryption key to restore access to the victim’s files. The payment is often made in the form of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin because it allows for anonymous transactions and is difficult to trace.

The ransomware typically propagates through phishing emails, infected software, or malicious web links that can be used to exploit known vulnerabilities in software.

Once a computer is infected with crypto-ransomware, the victim’s files are typically encrypted with a unique encryption key, generated for each victim, and sent to the command and control servers controlled by the hackers. Once the ransom is paid, the attackers will provide the decryption key to the victims.

Paying the ransom does not guarantee that the files will be decrypted; in some cases, the attackers may not even provide the decryption key after the ransom is paid. It is not recommended to pay the ransom as it can fund cybercriminal operations and their future activities. Instead, good data backup and disaster recovery plans are recommended to minimize the damage caused by a ransomware attack.

Popular Crypto-Ransomware Attacks

Over the years, there have been many different types of crypto-ransomware attacks, and some have been more successful and widely spread than others. Here are a few examples of some popular crypto-ransomware attacks:

  1. WannaCry: This ransomware attack occurred in May 2017 and affected over 200,000 computers in 150 countries. It exploited a vulnerability in the Windows operating system and spread rapidly through networks. The attackers demanded a payment of $300 in Bitcoin.
  2. Petya/NotPetya: This attack occurred in June 2017 and affected companies in Ukraine, Russia, and other countries. Like WannaCry, it exploited a vulnerability in the Windows operating system. The attackers demanded a payment of $300 in Bitcoin.
  3. CryptoLocker: This attack was first seen in September 2013 and was one of the first examples of crypto-ransomware. The attackers demanded payment in Bitcoin, and the malware was primarily spread through phishing emails.
  4. Ryuk: First reported in August 2018, this Ransomware attack is known for targeting specific and large organizations, focusing on the healthcare and Government sectors. Attackers initially gain access to the network using spear-phishing techniques and then uses Ryuk to encrypt the data and demand a ransom in Bitcoin.
  5. Sodinokibi: This ransomware was first identified in April 2019; it was used to target various organizations and has been known to exploit vulnerabilities in Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to gain access to the network and then encrypt the data while demanding a ransom in bitcoin.
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New crypto-ransomware attacks are constantly emerging. Keep software and systems updated, be cautious when clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources, and have a data backup and disaster recovery plan.

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