Ransomware has been far from low-profile since its inception several years ago. Everyone knows what the file-encrypting malware does, and they all know that paying the ransom can make the nightmare go away by decrypting the files located on their computer. As if the threat of losing data forever wasn’t enough, you’re staring down a ticking clock while this is going on. Nowadays, ransomware is becoming more difficult to manage through various tactics.
Businesses are forced to invest in IT security to prevent themselves from making the next headline regarding cybersecurity (or lack thereof). Unfortunately, even the best and most comprehensive security solutions can't help you if the file is already on your computer or network. If the malware has gone wireless, there’s a very real possibility that this can happen. We’ll help you understand the concept of fileless ransomware, and why it’s not a good thing for users and organizations.
The reason why hackers are so intent on making their malware fileless is because security professionals and organizations have really stepped up their game in recent years to fend off these infections. 99.9 percent of all would-be malware attacks were actually turned away outright in 2017, emboldening users and convincing hackers that they need to take new measures to get victims. Thus, the arms race continues with the development of new types of ransomware.
Ransomware has represented a shift in the way that businesses look at the dangers of the Internet. Fileless malware takes this a step further by attacking the default Windows tools (Powershell and Windows Management Instrumentation) to support malicious activity. Since these tools are on every Windows machine, these types of attacks are effective at hitting a lot of users where it hurts.
How it Works
Fileless ransomware is generally dispersed in the same way as traditional malware--through phishing emails and messages. This is why it’s so important for your business to train employees on how to identify suspicious messages. However, rather than using email attachments or downloading malware onto the system directly, fileless ransomware will instead run a macro in the RAM of a machine to create a command line and run the application. In this situation, the program doing the encrypting is actually PowerShell or WMI (talk about a stab in the back). A message is then shown indicating that the files have been encrypted and are being held until payment is received. Once this happens, the user is given a short amount of time to make a decision regarding the fate of their files.
We at KT Connections know the frustrations and challenges associated with network security, and you can bet that we know a thing or two about how to keep ransomware off a network. To learn more about how we can help your organization keep itself safe, reach out to us at 605-341-3873.
Rodd Ahrenstorff is the Director of Business Operations for KT Connections, as well as a member of the company’s ownership team starting in 2014. Rodd has been working in the computer and telecommunication fields for over twenty years—a term during which he has held a number of leadership positions. In the past, he has served as a broadcast television engineer, an systems architect, and most recently Director of Information Technology, including a role as a HIPAA Security Officer for behavioral health and multi-specialty medical providers.