Potentially one of the worst forms of hacking, the implementation of ransomware had brought down thousands of businesses and brough huge amounts of financial strain on to unknowing personal victims.

Digitogy explains ransomware as a devious hacker trend which is not only simple but highly effective once they manage to break through the initial barrier. Usually targeting high level databases such as the well known attack on MySQL database servers, the vast amounts of private data being stored can lead to all kinds of damage if a hacker manages to break through and analyse all the data for their own use. 

What is ransomware?

Much like taking a physical person hostage during a bank raid or kidnapping incident, a hacker gains entry on to secured databases to obtain access to sensitive and valuable information which can later be held hostage.

Hackers do this by creating their own zip files of the information in question and then deleting it off the system they found it on. This means that data is now entirely under their control and in order for it not to be released or published to the general public the individual featured in the files is subjected to paying a ransom in order to get the data back and out of danger.

In regards to the SQL attack in January 2020, hackers managed to obtain a staggering 250,000 databases which they then listed for sale.

How ransomware operates

Staying with the recent attack on SQL, the method of ransomware was commanded in two stages. The first being direct messages to individuals to provide payment in bitcoin to prevent anything happening to their private data. It is reported that over $24,000 was paid to the hackers after this initial period.

However, taking their attack further, a bigger step from the hackers was to create their own website on Tor. Common enough for hackers to create websites, the devious part of this stage is that there was no private communication to those involved in the files and they were all asked for payment direct through the website to get the files removed. Those who did not pay had their details leaked through that same website.

Staying safe from ransomware

Once data has become subject to ransomware it can be a harrowing experience for all involved. However, prevention is the best method to use in order to help stop it from happening.

Even though no control can be taken for large organisations and systems like clouds, steps such as installing a VPN, known as a Virtual Private Network, are a great step forward in protecting sensitive data and keeping it private. 

Using complex passwords and encrypted wavelengths allow VPNs to offer high levels of security for online users, promoting the fact that the connections are virtually unbreakable for unauthorised access. Built with firewalls, passwords and other security features VPNs are a valuable asset to have plus any other installations designed to protect against any potential cyber attack.  

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