The world of ransomware is changing fast, becoming more complicated as new types emerge. Understanding these different forms is vital for putting in place a strong and flexible defense against cyber-attacks.
Additionally, there are various ransomware families, such as WannaCryptor, Stop/DJVU, and Phobos, each bringing its unique traits. Being aware of these variations helps in strategizing specialized defenses that are more targeted and effective.
Below is a list of the most frequently encountered types of ransomwares, categorized based on their modus operandi.
· Crypto Ransomware or Encryptors: A mainstay in the malicious toolkit, Crypto Ransomware specializes in encrypting files and data, often utilizing advanced encryption algorithms. This tactic makes the data inaccessible until a decryption key, usually obtainable only through a cryptocurrency payment, is applied. Among this category, ransomware families like WannaCryptor have gained notoriety for their wide-reaching and devastating impacts.
· Lockers: Focusing on system interaction rather than data integrity, Lockers incapacitate key functionalities of a computer, often displaying a ransom note on a locked screen. While they may not encrypt data, the disruption they cause is palpable. The Phobos ransomware family, for instance, has been known to utilize locker tactics alongside encryption methods.
· Scareware: Operating primarily through psychological manipulation, Scareware purports to be legitimate antivirus software. It inundates users with incessant alerts about fabricated malware infections and often demands payment for “removal services.” Some advanced variants may also lock the computer, borrowing techniques from Lockers. Many times, scareware is the gateway to the infamous tech support scammers.
· Doxware or Leakware: Doxware presents an augmented threat by seizing sensitive data and threatening its public release. Stakes here are elevated by the reputational risk involved. Occasionally, you may encounter police-themed ransomware, which masquerades as law enforcement, asserting that the user can avoid legal ramifications by paying a fine.
· Mobile Ransomware: As smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous in daily life, Mobile Ransomware has followed suit. These attacks target either the usability of the device or the data stored on it, compelling victims to pay for restoration.
· DDoS Extortion: While not a conventional form of ransomware, DDoS Extortion employs similar principles—coercing victims into making financial payments to avert disruptions. Here, the threat lies in overwhelming a network or website with an influx of traffic, temporarily disabling its functionalities.
How to recover from a ransomware infection?
To decrypt files compromised by ransomware, you'll need an appropriate decryption tool. Identify the specific ransomware variant affecting your system and consult cybersecurity experts for tool availability.
Many of them, like the ransomware remediation tools offered by Bitdefender Labs, are available free of charge. Swift and decisive action is crucial to prevent further dissemination of the ransomware, gauge its impact, and begin the recovery procedures.
Use the following action plan as a roadmap for ransomware recovery and establishing subsequent long-term protection. It outlines key steps, from initial signs of an attack to post-incident analysis, to help you restore affected systems and strengthen your cybersecurity measures.
Isolation and Containment
The first course of action should be to limit the ability of the malware to proliferate across your infrastructure.
· Isolate Affected Devices: Immediately disconnect the compromised hardware from the network, the internet, and other connected devices.
· Stop the Spread: Terminate all forms of wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) and isolate devices that show irregular behavior to prevent widespread disruption across the enterprise.
Assessment and Identification:
Next, thoroughly analyze the impact and origin of the attack to inform subsequent steps.
· Assess the Damage: Examine systems for encrypted files, abnormal file names, and collate user reports of issues with file accessibility. Develop a comprehensive list of compromised systems.
· Locate Patient Zero: Scrutinize antivirus notifications, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) platforms, and human-generated leads such as suspicious emails to pinpoint the infection source.
·Identify the Ransomware Variant: Employ ransomware identification resources like Bitdefender Ransomware Recognition Tool or study the details in the ransom note to specify the ransomware strain in question.
Following the immediate technical responses, it's critical to address legal responsibilities.
· Notify Authorities: Report the incident to appropriate law enforcement agencies. This action may not only assist in data recovery but is sometimes essential for compliance with laws such as CIRCIA (US) or GDPR (EU).
Recovery and Restoration:
With the groundwork in place, the focus shifts to restoring compromised systems and ensuring the malware is entirely eradicated.
· Evaluate Your Backups: If up-to-date backups are at hand, initiate system restoration, ensuring that antivirus and anti-malware tools eliminate all remnants of the ransomware prior to restoring the system.
· Research Decryption Options: In cases where backups are not an option, consider free decryption tools such as the ones mentioned before, from Bitdefender. Make sure all traces of malware are eradicated before attempting decryption.
System Sanitization and Security Upgrades:
With immediate threats neutralized, the emphasis should now be on identifying weaknesses and improving your cybersecurity architecture.
· Eradicate the Threat: Conduct a root-cause analysis, typically guided by a trusted cybersecurity expert, to identify all system vulnerabilities and completely remove the threat from your network.
· Prioritize Restoration: Focus first on restoring the most mission-critical systems, considering their effect on productivity and revenue streams.
Final Options and Forward Planning
As you move towards normalization, keep an eye on long-term strategies to mitigate the likelihood of future attacks.
· Reset or Rebuild: If backups or decryption keys are unattainable, resetting the systems to factory settings or a complete rebuild may be inevitable.
· Futureproofing: Bear in mind that previous ransomware victims are at higher risk of subsequent attacks. Therefore, a post-incident audit should focus on potential security upgrades to mitigate future risks.
In conclusion, a coordinated, informed approach to recovery can lessen damage and speed up your return to normal operations.