What is ransomware and how to avoid it?

What is ransomware and how to avoid it?


Defining Ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malware software that locks and encrypts a victim’s data or computer, then demands a ransom to restore access upon payment.

Users are typically shown instructions for how to pay a fee for the decryption key, usually payable by Bitcoin, which makes it untraceable.

Ransoms can range anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars.


How Ransomware works

There are two common ways that Ransomware can access a computer.

One of the most common of these is Phishing, which is using deceptive emails to pose as a person or file that they should trust.

Commonly, they will be sent in the guise of a coworker’s name. Another common guise is that of a job applicant.

Once the file is downloaded and opened, it can take over the victim’s computer.

A less common but more dangerous form of Ransomware showed up in 2017, known as NotPetya, which would spread on it’s own. This did not require human intervention in the form of downloading a file.

It is presumed that these attacks will be more common in the future.

There are several ways that Ransomware can take over the victims computer, but the most common action is that of encrypting a set of files or all of the users data.

The data is then encrypted and impossible to unlock without a mathematical key that is only known to the attacker.

According to Data Breach Today, the average ransomware payout is $41,000.


Who is susceptible to ransomware?

In an early 2020 survey of Senior Level Executives, 46% of small businesses had been the target of a ransomware attack.

Of those companies who were attacked, 73% had paid the ransom.

43% of those companies had paid between $10,000 and $50,000 to their ransomware attacks.

Unfortunately, however, only 17% of the companies who paid their ransoms were able to recover their data.

The same survey came back to suggest that businesses who engage in B2B activities are 20% more likely to be hit by Ransomware attacks.


How can you prevent Ransomware?

There are a number of steps that businesses can take to prevent Ransomware infection.

  • Keep your operating systems up to date to ensure you have fewer vulnerabilities to exploit.
  • When installing software, do not give it administrative privileges unless you know exactly what it is and what it does.
  • Backup your files frequently and automatically. This won’t stop the Ransomware attack but it will lessen the blow and make it obsolete if the data is located elsewhere.
  • Install anti-virus software that can detect malicious programs as they arrive.



Ransomware is only becoming more and more common, especially since the majority of organizations affected by these attacks are paying the ransom.

It is detrimental that businesses prepare themselves for this new threat and take the proper measures to avoid mass damage being done.


To learn more about DRaaS and how you can protect your business from Ransomware, click here.