The different types of ransomware include crypto ransomware, locker ransomware, scareware, leakware and Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS). Ransomware is a type of malware, also known as malicious software, that prevents victims from accessing the data stored on their devices until they’ve paid a cybercriminal a certain amount of money, commonly referred to as a ransom.
Continue reading to learn more about the different types of ransomware and how organizations and individuals can stay safe from this type of malware.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that gets unknowingly installed on a person’s device through various means such as through phishing scams or compromised passwords. When ransomware infects a device, it prevents individuals from being able to access the files and data they have stored on their devices until they have paid a “ransom.”
The cybercriminal “promises” that the victims will regain access to their data when the ransom is paid, but this isn’t always guaranteed. If cybercriminals know an organization or individual is willing to pay a ransom, they may continue targeting them with additional ransomware attacks. Furthermore, regaining access to data also doesn’t guarantee that the cybercriminal hasn’t already sold the data on the dark web, meaning the victim’s data may already be compromised after getting it back.
Types of Ransomware
Ransomware can be categorized into five different types: crypto ransomware, locker ransomware, scareware, leakware and ransomware-as-a-service.
Crypto ransomware is when cybercriminals use a program to encrypt the data stored on a victim’s device. When the data becomes encrypted, it turns into ciphertext which makes the data unreadable. The only way to decrypt the data is by obtaining the decryption key, which only the cybercriminal has. The cybercriminal won’t provide the victim with the decryption key until they’ve paid the ransom demanded.
Locker ransomware is a type of ransomware that makes a victim’s device completely inoperable, meaning they won’t be able to use it for anything. The only thing a victim will be able to do on their device is pay the ransom which will be displayed on their screen. This type of ransomware essentially locks you out of your device, hence the name “locker.”
Scareware is ransomware that displays a warning to users that their device has been infected with a virus or malware. The warning then urges the victim to pay to have the virus or malware removed from their device. Most of the time, the victim’s device isn’t actually infected, so they’re being urged to pay to fix a problem they don’t really have.
Leakware, also known as doxware, is a type of ransomware that threatens to expose sensitive information if the victim doesn’t pay the ransom. Because this type of ransomware threatens to expose sensitive information, most victims panic and pay it to prevent their private data from being exposed to the public.
Ransomware-as-a-Service is not exactly a type of ransomware, but more of a delivery model. RaaS is when ransomware is distributed by the individual who created the ransomware and offers to target an individual or organization with it for a price. RaaS is typically a subscription service that cybercriminals pay for on the dark web.
If a ransomware attack executed through RaaS is successful and the victim pays the ransom, the cybercriminal and the RaaS seller both gain money from the attack, based on their agreed-upon terms.
How To Stay Safe From Ransomware Attacks
Here are the steps individuals and organizations should take to keep themselves safe from ransomware.
Regularly back up data
Ransomware takes advantage of the fact that most people don’t back up their data regularly. It’s important to regularly back up your data to prevent losing your data if something happens to your device that causes it to get ransomware.
Make sure to back up your data in encrypted cloud storage. That way, even if something goes wrong, you’ll still have access to your data. You also ensure that no one but you will be able to access your backed-up data since it’s secured behind encryption, meaning it can only be accessed with the encryption key, which is usually a username and password. Make sure that the cloud storage you choose uses zero-knowledge encryption. This is the most secure encryption available since it keeps your data encrypted at all times when you’re not accessing it.
Be cautious of phishing and other social engineering scams
One of the most common ways for ransomware to infect your device is by falling for a phishing or other social engineering scam. According to Keeper Security’s 2021 Ransomware Impact Report, 42% of ransomware attacks were caused by phishing emails. Phishing is a cyber threat where the cybercriminal pretends to be someone the victim knows, or a company the victim has an account with, to trick them into revealing sensitive information or infect their devices with malware.
To carry out phishing attacks, cybercriminals send victims malicious links and attachments through email or text message and then urge the victims to click on them. Clicking on these links and attachments can infect a victim’s device with all types of malware, including ransomware.
Don’t click unsolicited links and attachments
As mentioned above, cybercriminals will often send victims unsolicited links and attachments and then urge them to click those links and attachments. However, clicking on a link or attachment you’re not sure is safe can lead to your device becoming infected with malware. Depending on the cybercriminal’s goal, the malware they choose to infect your device with may vary.
Never click on links or attachments that you’re not sure are safe and are sent to you unsolicitedly. If the sender urging you to click on a link or attachment claims to be from a company you have an account with, go to the company’s official website rather than clicking the link they’ve provided. If the sender claims to be someone you know, contact them through another method of communication to confirm they were the one who sent it. If they deny they’ve sent you the link, don’t click on it.
Use a password manager
A password manager is a tool that helps you generate and securely store passwords for your online accounts. You must always use strong, unique passwords for online accounts because compromised passwords are another common cause of ransomware attacks. Keeper’s 2021 Ransomware Impact Report found that 21% of ransomware attacks were caused by compromised passwords.
Coming up with multiple strong passwords and remembering them all is impossible to do on your own, so it’s best to invest in a password manager that will help you create, manage and store them for you. Both individuals and organizations should use a password manager to prevent compromised passwords from leading to a successful ransomware attack.
Don’t Suffer From Ransomware Attacks – Get Protected
Ransomware attacks continue to rise – in fact, they are up 95% from 2022 to 2023. Not only is it important to learn about the different types of ransomware, but it’s just as important to take precautionary security measures to prevent ransomware from cutting off complete access to your data.
Apart from following cybersecurity best practices, such as regularly backing up your data and not clicking on unsolicited links and attachments, it’s also important to secure your online accounts.
Start a free personal or business trial of Keeper® Password Manager today to see just how easy it is to protect your online accounts with strong passwords.