Targeted ransomware

Targeted ransomware is a type of ransomware that is specifically designed to attack and infect the networks of specific organizations or individuals. The attackers typically conduct extensive research on their target beforehand, in order to identify vulnerabilities in their systems that they can exploit. This type of ransomware attack is typically more sophisticated and more difficult to detect and prevent than generic ransomware attacks, which are distributed widely in the hope of finding vulnerable systems.

Examples of targeted ransomware attacks include the attack on the City of Baltimore in 2019, in which the attackers used a strain of ransomware known as "RobbinHood" to encrypt the city's computer systems and demand a ransom payment of around $76,000. Other examples include the attack on the Colonial Pipeline in 2021, which led to a widespread disruption of fuel supplies on the US East Coast, and the attack on the JBS USA food processing company in the same year.

In December 2022, Texas-based cloud computing provider Rackspace confirmed today that a ransomware attack is behind an ongoing Hosted Exchange outage described as an "isolated disruption."

There has been a cyber security incident involving a ransomware attack on Mercury IT.  Mercury IT provides a wide range of IT services to customers across  New Zealand.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on a computer or network, making them inaccessible to the user. Once the files have been encrypted, the ransomware displays a message on the infected device, demanding that the user pay a ransom in order to restore access to the encrypted files. The ransom is typically paid in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, in order to maintain the anonymity of the attackers.

Here's a summary of the typical process of a ransomware attack:

  1. The attacker first gain access to the target's system, through methods like Phishing, Vulnerabilities exploitation, Remote access to the system, Brute-forcing of login credentials or Using Stolen credentials

  2. Once the attacker has access, they will then deploy the ransomware to the system. This can be done by downloading and installing the ransomware on the target's computer, or by injecting the malware into existing processes.

  3. The ransomware will then begin to encrypt files on the target's computer, making them inaccessible to the user. This process is typically done using a strong encryption algorithm, such as AES or RSA.

  4. After the encryption process is complete, the ransomware will display a message on the infected device, demanding that the user pay a ransom in order to restore access to the encrypted files. The ransom message typically includes instructions on how to pay the ransom and a deadline by which the ransom must be paid.

  5. After the ransom is paid, the attackers will provide the victim with a decryption key which will allow them to restore their files.

It's important to note that paying the ransom does not guarantee the restoration of the data, and it can also make the victims a target for future attacks.

Preventive measures like regular backup, software updates, and training employees on how to identify and report suspicious emails can help to reduce the risk of a ransomware attack.

How to be secure from a Ransomware attack.

There are several steps that organizations and individuals can take to help protect themselves from targeted ransomware attacks:

  1. Keep software up to date: Regularly update your operating system, web browsers, and other software to ensure that any known vulnerabilities are patched.

  2. Use anti-virus and anti-malware software: These tools can help to detect and remove malware that is already on your system. It's important to keep this software up to date and run regular scans.

  3. Be cautious when opening email attachments or clicking on links: Be especially wary of email attachments or links that come from unknown senders, or that look suspicious in any way.

  4. Use firewalls: Firewalls can help to block unauthorized access to your system, and can also be configured to block certain types of network traffic.

  5. Regularly backup your data: Keeping a backup of your important data can help you to recover quickly case your system is infected with ransomware. It's important to ensure that your backups are stored offline or on a separate network so that they can't be encrypted by ransomware.

  6. Train employees: Regularly train your employees on how to identify and report suspicious emails or other potential threats.

  7. Monitor your network: Regularly monitoring your network can help you to detect any unusual activity that could indicate a ransomware attack.

  8. Penetration testing: Hire a professional security company to conduct penetration testing on your network, these experts can identify vulnerabilities in your network and help you to fix them before they can be exploited by attackers.

Remember that targeted ransomware attacks are typically more sophisticated than generic attacks, and they may be able to bypass some of the standard security measures. It's important to be vigilant and to regularly review and update your security protocols to ensure that you are protected against the latest threats.

By identifying vulnerabilities, putting security measures in place, and offering continuous monitoring and incident response services, Bluefire Redteam cybersecurity can assist your business in strengthening its cybersecurity posture.

Additionally, we assist in ensuring compliance with rules and educating employees, both of which can diminish the possibility of cyberattacks and minimize their effects should they occur.

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