KuppingerCole Report
Advisory Note
By Martin Kuppinger

Understanding and Countering Ransomware

Ransomware is a top security threat and continuously on the rise. Financial organizations, healthcare institutions, and manufacturing industries are the most vulnerable groups; however, individual users as well have been victims of ransomware. The purpose of this Advisory Note is to analyze the concept of ransomware, elaborate on its global reach and provide concrete advice on what to do if hit by ransomware.

1 Executive Summary

Ransomware is, without any doubt, one of the hottest topics in cybersecurity these days. Attacks such as the ones of the WannaCry and the Petya ransom ...

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2 Highlights

  • Ransomware is on the rise and as long as appropriate security measure are not in place, it will continue to grow
  • Across the globe, different organ ...
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3 The Concept of and Business Model behind Ransomware

Ransomware is a top cybersecurity threat for every organization and individual. It has quadrupled in 2016 compared to the previous year, and it is est ...

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3.1 How does Ransomware work?

Ransomware is malware, e.g. a malicious software that infects target systems. Distribution commonly works either via trojans, i.e. files appearing to ...

A typical scenario can be divided into three phases:

  1. Attack: In the first phase, users are tricked into clicking links or opening attachments. Oc ...
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3.2 Targeted vs. mass attacks, known vs. unknown exploits

To better understand the risks caused by ransomware, it is important to understand the way ransomware attacks commonly work, but also the challenges i ...

Figure 2 shows the changes of risk during the lifetime of an attack vector. When it is created, no one aside from the creator(s) knows about the malwa ...

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3.3 The business model behind ransomware

Ransomware has the most obvious business model of all types of malware. It is about earning money by ransom. It is said that alone the ransomware Cry ...

Also, according to the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, the number of “ransomware families”, i.e. related ransomware based using the same ...

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4 The State of Ransomware

Ransomware is a global challenge today. It affects systems globally, it affects all types of organizations and private users, and it is growing. There ...

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4.1 Recent numbers on Petya and Wannacry

The most recent ransomware attack which struck in June 2017 was Petya, which also goes by name NotPetya! or GoldenEye. This type of a global cyberatta ...

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4.2 The global distribution of ransomware

According to Symantec and Verizon, ransomware has grown globally to become one of the most widespread malware varieties. In addition, developed nation ...

Developed nations are usually the prime targets for ransomware

While Europe as a whole is most affected, other areas also have seen a large numb ...

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5 Countering Ransomware

Countering ransomware requires an adequate organization and must cover all phases of the cybersecurity cycle, from identification of risks to recovery ...

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6 What to Do If I Get Hit by Ransomware?

Ransomware can hit anyone. Be prepared for such scenarios and know what to do. The major steps are isolating affected systems, so that ransomware stop ...

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6.1 Isolate

In order to prevent ransomware from spreading across networks, infected systems should be isolated from the network as soon as possible. This is cruci ...

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6.2 Investigate

There are over 100 active ransomware families, and they use varying techniques and have different behaviors. Some ransomware locks the users’ scree ...

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6.3 Recover

The recovery phase after a ransomware attack can be time-consuming, depending on the amount of data that was affected and how available and current th ...

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7 Recommendations

KuppingerCole’s top recommendations for organizations to increase their ransomware attack resilience include:

  • Although there are a variety of tool ...
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