4 Common Ransomware Attack Vectors
Ransomware attacks were prevalent in 2017, with hundreds of thousands of infections occurring in the year. Avoid being included in the statistics by protecting yourself from infections. The key to doing so is understanding the vectors cybercriminals utilize in perpetrating ransomware attacks, which include the following:
Email attachments and email links
Email is the most common vector used by cybercriminals, and in 2017, nearly 60% of all ransomware attacks came from infected emails. Cybercriminals fancy this channel for two reasons:1) because it requires little effort, and 2) because plenty of people still are not careful when it comes to clicking on emails.
The way it works is this: A cybercriminal sends the target a legitimate-looking email— that appears to be from a trusted company or individual—and asks the recipient to open an attached file (PDF, Word document, etc.) or hyperlink. The recipient then opens the email, activates the ransomware, gets infected, and has his or her files held for ransom.
Often referred to as malvertising, this method employs online ads to deliver the ransomware. This vector uses the kind of ads that pop up on your computer all of a sudden, which might cause you to accidentally click on them instead of closing them.
To reach a wider range of targets, cybercriminals purchase these ads so that it can be spread on legitimate websites such as social media and online marketplaces. Cybercriminals also prefer adult websites as a platform for malvertising due to their high traffic.
Cybercriminals embed and hide malware in code of unsecure websites, or those that have URLs beginning in HTTP://. The targets visit a website (one they visit on a regular basis), clicks on something as they’ve done countless times in the past. When they do, their systems become infected with malware.
The reason this vector is effective is because it relies more on system vulnerabilities, in contrast to emails that require targets to click on links and attachments, which may or may not happen.
Downloads, both legal and and illegal, have become an everyday online activity, and cybercriminals take advantage of this fact. They entice users by placing free downloads (movies, music, apps, games, etc.) on both legitimate downloading platforms such as Google Play and illegal file-sharing websites like the countless torrent sites on the internet. Once the download completes, the system of the unsuspecting victim gets infected with ransomware.
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