How Does Ransomware Work?

Ransomware is just one of the many attack tactics in a threat actor’s toolkit. When run, a ransomware program will scan the file storage disk for files to encrypt, typically documents, spreadsheets, etc. The files are encrypted with a key that only the attackers know, thus preventing access to the files. Hackers can infiltrate an environment in many different ways. Let’s dive into some of the most popular ways hackers gain access.

1. Phishing: 

Phishing is still one of the most prevalent ways that threat actors gain access to an environment. Phishing emails commonly trick the user into downloading and opening an attachment or entering their credentials into a fake login page. When you run the attachment, a second-stage backdoor is often downloaded. This could be a full-featured backdoor, giving the threat actor complete access to the host or even the initial deployment of the ransomware.

Should the user enter their credentials into the fake login portal, the attacker may attempt to use those credentials to log in to Office 365. This allows the threat actor to send additional phishing emails from a legitimate email address. Other users are likelier to fall victim to a phishing email if it comes from a trusted source.

Phishing occurs when a threat actor attempts to trick an unsuspecting victim into handing over their sensitive information, such as their credit card information or Social Security number. Alternatively, threat actors may attach a file with malicious code to a legitimate-looking email, encouraging the recipient to open it and unknowingly give threat actors the ability to access and encrypt their data.

2. Public-Facing Vulnerabilities: 

Threat actors scan the internet looking for systems with known vulnerabilities. Often, there is a gap between when a new vulnerability is publicly released and when the general public has patched their systems. Threat actors exploit these vulnerabilities to gain the initial access into the environment. Once in, they typically escalate privileges and begin to deploy their malware to additional systems.

3. Drive-by downloads.

A drive-by download occurs when someone navigates to a malicious webpage and unknowingly downloads malicious code to their computer by visiting it. The malicious code may run immediately or sit dormant for some time before encrypting the user’s data.

4. Purchased access. 

There’s a marketplace for everything these days, and cyberattacks are no exception. Threat actors often compromise networks at scale and then resell that access to other ransomware operators, who then deploy the ransomware.

As you can see, hackers have many tools and methods to breach your environment. You must prepare your business with the proper techniques and tools to prevent hackers from breaching your environment. Contact Pendello Solutions today. Our experienced team of business technology associates has the expertise and experience to help your team build its front line of defense.