The many faces of Ransomware

Mailspike Technologies By Mailspike Technologies • January 18, 2023

Everyone knows Ransomware. But how dangerous it really is?

According to, the number of ransomware attacks in the previous year was 623.3 million. And by the first half of 2022, 236.1 million ransomware attacks had already been reported. But what is ransomware exactly, and why can it cause millions or even billions of dollars in damages?

Ransomware Explained  

Ransomware is a form of malware or malicious software that can prevent or limit a user’s access to their system until a ransom is paid.

There are different variations of ransomware. They can arrive via email or malicious websites. And once the ransomware is in your system, it will encrypt data and block access to your systems and networks. Ways that ransomware may keep you from accessing your system would include locking your screen, your files, or your device.

Once the malware has completed its encryption process, a ransom note typically appears on the system’s screen. The ransom note will likely contain instructions on how to regain access to your data or device, including a link to follow, the ransom amount, and the deadline. If the attack stole data from your system, the note might include the type of data they’re holding “hostage.” Most often, attackers demand that the ransom be paid in the form of cryptocurrency, which, while traceable, is one of the easiest and fastest ways to make transactions.  

Ransomware employs asymmetric encryption, which uses a unique public-private pair of keys that the attacker has generated. Only when the victim pays the ransom will the attacker provide the private key that can decrypt the encrypted file. And these ransom amounts can be thousands of dollars - even hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, depending on how big the organization is. 

Why Ransomware Attacks Mostly Begin with Phishing Emails

While ransomware can arrive via malicious websites, the leading delivery method for ransomware is via phishing emails. Why? For starters, phishing emails don’t require a lot of technical skills to create.

Attackers design phishing emails to look like they come from a legitimate source, such as a well-known brand, bank, or government agency. The email will seem like the organization is asking you to confirm your personal data or account information. Most phishing emails used to contain a link in the email body. And once you click that link and provide your information, the attacker has everything they need to gain access to your account or install ransomware.

But cybercriminals have gotten smarter. Instead of a link, they conceal the phishing URL in email attachments. And the person who has received the email will click the email attachment or shared file, automatically downloading the malware the moment they click and not realizing it until it’s too late.

Why are so many people careless about clicking links or email attachments? It’s because the email has made its way into the inbox, and we assume it’s safe. It will look like a legitimate email from our colleagues, superiors, and organizations we trust. The problem is that many email filters don’t scan the email for attachments. Therefore, many phishing emails still infiltrate your inbox.

When protecting your business from a ransomware attack, you need to invest in training that will make your employees savvy email users. They need to be diligent and alert. You also need multi-layer email protection. AnubisNetworks helps you stay ahead of these threats with a platform that uses sophisticated mechanisms and technologies, like Anti-fraud, DLP, Anti-spoofing, Sandbox-based Malware Analysis, and AAA analysis such as DMARC, MTA-STS, DKIM, and SPF.

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