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Ransomware: How it works and how to prevent its attack in 2021

Do you know ransomware is the most dangerous threat to your device? Ransomware, a malicious software that threatens you by locking the system’s screen or by locking your files until a ransom is paid.

Ransom prices vary depending on the ransomware variant. If you don’t pay in time, the data is gone forever or the ransom increases.

In 2021 the most common tactics hackers use to carry out ransomware attacks are email phishing campaigns, RDP vulnerabilities, and software vulnerabilities.

If you want to prevent your device from the risk of a ransomware attack, you should rely on high-quality ransomware protection software.

How does ransomware work?

Now let’s have a look at the working of ransomware:

Phishing emails 

Most ransomware attacks are delivered through email phishing. The email may contain a malicious link. Once the victim clicks on the link, the ransomware in the file begins to download and is executed on your computer.

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is another popular ransomware infection where cybercriminals steal your passwords or gain access to your login credentials. With this access, the attacker can directly execute it on your device and gain control over your device.

Some ransomware attacks have even been sent using social media messaging. The distribution of phishing links via social media is emerging gradually. We need to be more careful when using such social messaging applications.

Data Encryption

After ransomware has gained access to your system, it begins to encrypt all your files present inside your device. This encryption involves using the system’s built-in functionality to replace the existing encryption keys with ones used by the attacker.

The attacker asks for a ransom to unlock or decrypt the files. Some ransomware variants will also take steps to delete backup and also get rid of system recovery files to prevent you from recovering your files without decryption.

In such cases, the victim pays the ransom and also loses his sensitive data.

Once this happens, there is no guarantee that you will get access to your data back. The attacker may also encrypt files on your infected device and make money by selling a product that unlocks files and prevent future malware attacks.

Ransom amount demand by attackers 

Once file encryption is complete, the attackers demand a ransom from you. This demand is shown as a post on the desktop of your system.

These posts demand a set amount of cryptocurrency(usually in terms of bitcoins) in which you have to pay the demanded ransom amount within a limited time to regain access to your system. 

Once you pay the ransom, the attacker gives you the decryption key necessary to decrypt the files using a decryption program. 

This information provided by the attacker can be used to reverse the encryption and restore access to your files.

How to prevent these ransomware attacks in 2021?

Maintain backups

Backing up important data is one of the most effective ways to recover your device from ransomware infection.

It is also important to ensure that the data backup solution does not allow the ransomware to encrypt as well. 

Data should be stored in a read-only format to prevent the spread of ransomware to the drives containing recovery data.

Cloud data backup and recovery is an important tool to protect your data against ransomware.

Set Up a Firewall

A firewall is a software-based line of defense against ransomware. Firewall monitors and filters incoming and outgoing network traffic and helps users block malicious software from accessing the Internet in infected computers.

You can also set up firewalls that isolate your most critical systems from other computers on your network. This can contain the spread of ransomware and limit its impact on your organization.

Suggested read: Can antivirus software protect your device against ransomware attacks?

Do not open suspicious email attachments

Ransomware is most commonly delivered through email. Secure email gateways can block phishing attacks with URL defenses. 

Attach sandboxing to identify threats and block them from being delivered to you. 

It stops ransomware from arriving on endpoint devices and blocks you from inadvertently installing ransomware onto your device. This helps users to avoid phishing emails that may contain a ransomware attack.

Educate Users

Raise awareness about ransomware especially among your family members and the organization’s employees which is a basic security measure.  

According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 85% of data breaches involve human interaction. Educate your users about some of the most common types of phishing attacks that are in circulation.

To do this, cyber awareness training sessions should be conducted for your entire workforce based on spotting and reporting suspicious cyber activity, maintaining cyber hygiene, and securing their personal devices and home networks. 

Organizations also need to practice good basic cyber hygiene to ensure all systems are properly updated and patched.

Boost the defense against ransomware by using a VPN

When using a public Wi-Fi network, your computer is more vulnerable to ransomware attacks. So when using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions of data, use a secure VPN service.

A Virtual Private Network(VPN) is especially helpful for corporate web users as well as general PC users. Your data is encrypted and it remains largely out of reach for cyber attackers when you share or access data online using a VPN.

Suggested read: Can a VPN protect you against ransomware attacks?


The development of ransomware in all its forms and variants become a significant threat both to private users and companies.

Every year, Almost 17 out of 24 Industries including IT, Finance, Healthcare, and Education sectors continuously experience cyber attacks.

All it takes for ransomware to gain entry to your network is for one click on a malicious email attachment or gaining access to your account by attackers.

Cyber security helps to protect organizations’ fallout from cyberattacks. 

It is therefore essential to learn about the working and prevention methods against ransomware, to be highly conscious of how you use your computers, and to install the best security software. 

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