On the surface, cyberattacks to unprotected home users may not appear to be lucrative for hackers, especially if you are only looking at a single instance. Attackers targeting individuals tend to keep their ransom relatively low (if compared to companies,) hoping to entice victims to pay up quickly, rather than trying to thwart the attack.
The payout for a single attack may range from a hundred to one thousand dollars in Bitcoins. But for the attacker, this is a game of numbers, with most attacks broadcast to multiple prospective victims, and with each win encouraging them to play on.
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Rather than catching a single victim, an attacker can easily cast a broad net to lure dozens of targets using the same phishing scams or malicious web content. Even if only a few take the bait, the return vs. effort remains fairly low. In addition, individual computer users remain a compliant target.
Few individuals have IT resources at their disposal to combat a ransomware attack. They are less likely to have up-to-date protections, and often will not have recent backups to restore from. When attacked, rather than risking losing family photographs, entire music libraries, and other valuable personal documents, individuals are likely to pay the ransom as long as it is set at a reasonable level.
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Ransomware is the preferred weapon of hackers everywhere and has become a global epidemic. The last several years have resulted in an increasing volume of new ransomware attacks and variants, including Bad Rabbit, Petya, WannaCry, Locky, Cerber and Cryptowall and more. It seems we hear about a ransomware attack every day, with new variants appearing almost on a weekly basis.
While ransomware has been around for some time, it has really been in the last two years that it has moved to the top of the attacker’s toolbox. Ransomware has taken thousands of individuals and entire corporations hostage, destroyed valuable data, and accumulated 100’s of millions of dollars in gains for skilled hackers.
As security vendors continue to develop defenses to detect and block traditional attacks, ransomware has evolved; becoming more adept at hiding inside documents, leveraging websites that appear innocuous to the user, and avoiding detection by traditional antivirus. Hackers easily swoop in, quickly encrypt files, and receive a significant payout in return for a decryption key that may or may not work, and then disappear without a trace.
As the frequency of these attacks increases, home users and organizations are becoming acutely aware of the risks posed by ransomware. Yet most are unprepared to defend against the latest evolution of ransomware techniques. Deepen your understanding of the threat of ransomware.
In the war against ransomware, there are a number of preventative measures you can take to avoid becoming a victim. Following these best practices can be a critical component in avoiding ransomware attacks and can help minimize the damage caused by a successful ransomware campaign.
- Back up your data and enable automatic backups
- Educate family members to recognize potential threats
- Never, ever, click on suspicious links or email attachments
- Keep antivirus and other signature-based protections up-to-date
- Install ZoneAlarm Anti-Ransomware. Don’t have it? Click here now!