If you’re an IT professional, you probably know at least the basics of ransomware. Instead of using malware or an exploit to exfiltrate PII from an enterprise, bad actors instead find valuable data and encrypt it. Unless you happen to have an NSA-caliber data center at your disposal to break the encryption, you must pay your attacker in cold, hard bitcoins—or else wave goodbye to your PII. Those assumptions aren’t wrong, but they also don’t tell the whole picture.
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Why Ransomware is Exploding
The growth of ransomware, as opposed to garden-variety malware, is enormous. Hackers have found that they can directly monetize the data they encrypt, which eliminates the time-consuming process of selling stolen data on the Darknet. In addition, the use of ransomware requires little in the way of technical skill—because attackers don’t need to get root on a victim’s machine.
Who the Real Targets Are
Two years ago, the most newsworthy victims of ransomware were various police departments. This year, everyone is buzzing about hospitals. Is this a deliberate pattern? Probably not. Enterprises are so ill-prepared for ransomware that attackers have a green field to wreak havoc. Until the industry shapes up, bad actors will target ransomware indiscriminately.
Where Ransomware Stumbles
Although ransomware is nearly impossible to dislodge when employed correctly, you may be surprised to find that not all bad actors have the skill to do it. Even if ransomware targets your network, you may learn that your attackers have used extremely weak encryption—or that they’ve encrypted files that are entirely non-critical.
As far as ransomware is concerned, forewarned is forearmed. Once you know how attackers deliver ransomware, who they’re likely to attack, and the weaknesses in the ransomware deployment model, you’ll be able to understand how to protect your enterprise.