Exposed! The tricks that ransomware plays

Find out what each variant does to hold unsuspecting victims' data hostage

Exposed! The tricks that ransomware plays
Credit: Thinkstock
Pulling ransomware out of ....

Ransomware quite often targets businesses (for example, hospitals) rather than individuals. Corporations have more valuable data and more money for ransom (ransom increases from roughly $500 per computer to $15,000 for the entire enterprise). Cyphort has examined different variants of ransomware to help users get an idea of what might be coming down the Internet pipeline. Keep an eye out for these characteristics before your network is taken hostage.

RELATED: Who is a target for ransomware?

[ Wait, is that fake ransomware or the real thing? Here's how to tell and what to do about it. | Got ransomware? These tools may help. | Discover how to secure your systems with InfoWorld's Security newsletter. ]

jigsaw
Credit: Thinkstock
Jigsaw

Trick 1: Delete files at regular intervals to increase the urgency to pay ransom faster

Jigsaw ransomware operates like this: For every hour that passes in which victims have not paid the ransom, another encrypted file is deleted from the computer, making it unrecoverable even if the ransom is paid or files decrypted via another method. The malware also deletes an extra 1,000 files every time victims restart their computers and log into Windows.

petya
Credit: Thinkstock
Petya

Trick 2: Encrypt entire drives

Petya ransomware encrypts Master File Table. This table contains all the information about how files and folders are allocated.

RansomWeb, Kimcilware
Credit: Thinkstock
RansomWeb, Kimcilware

Trick 3: Encrypt web server data

RansomWeb and Kimcilware are both families that take this unusual route -- instead of going after users’ computers, they infect web servers through vulnerabilities and encrypt website databases and hosted files, rendering the website unusable until ransom is paid.

DMA Locker, Locky, Cerber and CryptoFortress
Credit: Thinkstock
DMA Locker, Locky, Cerber, and CryptoFortress

Trick 4: Encrypt data on network drives, even on those that are not mapped

DMA Locker, Locky, Cerber, and CryptoFortress are all families that attempt to enumerate all open network Server Message Block shares and encrypt any that are found.

Maktub
Credit: Thinkstock
Maktub

Trick 5: Compression

Maktub ransomware compresses files first to speed up the encryption process.

cloud
Credit: Thinkstock
Not safe in the cloud

Trick 6: Delete or overwrite cloud backups

In the past, backing up your data to cloud storage and file shares was safe. However, newer versions of ransomware have been able to traverse to those shared file systems making them susceptible to the attack.

SimpleLocker
Credit: Thinkstock
SimpleLocker

Trick 7: Targeting non-Windows platforms

SimpleLocker encrypts files on Android, while Linux.Encode.1 encrypts files on Linux, and KeRanger on OSX.

Cerber
Credit: Thinkstock
Cerber

Trick 8: Using the computer speaker to speak audio messages to the victim

Cerber ransomware generates a VBScript, entitled “# DECRYPT MY FILES #.vbs,” which allows the computer to speak the ransom message to the victim. It can only speak English but the decryptor website it uses can be customized in 12 languages. It says “Attention! Attention! Attention!” “Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted!”

Tox
Credit: Thinkstock
Tox

Trick 10: Ransomware-as-a-Service

This model is offered on underground forums networks. It will provide the malicious code and infrastructure to facilitate the transfer of funds and the encryption key for the victim to be able to access their information. Tox ransomware does this.