Types of Ransomware


How Viruses Set the Stage

You don’t really care about types of ransomware. Rightly, you want to know how this impacts your business or organization and what to do about it. Also, you might be wondering why things keep getting worse no matter how many measures we put in place.

To understand ransomware, we must back up and recall ransomware’s pretentious older sibling, the virus.

Back in 1982, if you had a computer, you’d dial up to connect anywhere. A threat from outsiders didn’t really exist. Fast forward to the early 1990s and most people connected to the Internet via their browser. Then IT people began to tell businesses that they needed a firewall to keep “viruses” out.

A couple of years later, we added, “Now you need anti-virus software if you don’t want to get hacked.” Naturally, the response was, “Why? We already have a firewall.” Our response, “Well, firewalls work. But when you visit sites online and download files or programs, a virus can sneak in that way.”

Finally, we told you that you’d need antispyware and so on. Now you might be wondering if viruses still exist and why we’re still talking about them. They do exist, but we hardly hear about them thanks to all these anti-virus security measures.

How Hackers’ Incentive Changed

Think cops and robbers. We’ve added so much preventative technology that hackers decided to abandon hacking your firewall. It’s too much trouble and it takes too long. What did they choose instead? To hack you and your people. Much easier and quicker. And the cops can’t be everywhere.

While viruses destroyed all your data, ransomware, the next generation, simply locks you out. The hacker’s business model annoys you. “Hey Business Owner, I moved all your stuff to the file folder, ‘I hacked you.’ If you don’t want me to release your sensitive info on the Internet or if you want access to your data again, you can call our help desk and pay this amount (ransom).”

Just when you hated viruses, but learned to live with them, the next generation became still more clever. And the bad guys are targeting manufacturers more than ever—65% of all industrial ransomware incidents in 2021. Why? Because, compared to other sectors, many manufacturers have weak defenses. By the way, the top three subsectors attacked in manufacturing were metal components, automotive, and plastics.

Two Main Types of Ransomware

Now there are two types of ransomware – crypto and locker. Crypto, like the name says, encrypts your data so that you can’t read or use it. When you pay the ransom, the bad guys will unencrypt your files or give you the digital key to do so. At least, that’s what they promise.

Locker is simply software that locks you out of your system altogether. You can’t use your computers at all. Unless you pay the ransom, you’re stuck (so they say).

Either way—crypto or locker—your manufacturing operations can be brought to a sudden halt. For instance, your operational technology (OT) computers that control your manufacturing operations on the floor can be locked down directly or because they can’t read necessary files.

Some hackers attack OT computers directly. Others will attack your information technology (IT) system (the software that you use for email, customer support, etc.) to shut it down or migrate to your OT system if the two are linked. Either way, your manufacturing business can be brought to a sudden halt—downtime that could last for several days.

Experts say that it’s not a good idea to pay ransom. The crooks will just come back for more. Rather, the best solution is to implement security training for your team and install real-time scanning software to detect any breaches before damage can be done.

Why Aren’t We Doing More Prevention?

After working with small business leaders for two decades, I think the story for many goes like this:

We spent money on security measures. Lots of it. And now, like an Olympic athlete, we feel that we’ve hit the top of the performance curve. What will we gain by spending any more? The presumption is, nothing. But think of it another way. Olympic athletes don’t stop practicing just because they only make incremental improvements. When they stop, they fall behind.

Stay Vigilant! Or contact Now IT Works and we’ll get you on back on the winning track.