How Does Ransomware Breach a Computer?

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How Does Ransomware Breach a Computer?

As ransomware makes the news across the country for hijacking data and holding it for ransom, may computer users wonder how ransomware infects a computer. Well, like any type of modern malicious software, ransomware often uses deceit. One way or another, hackers trick computer users into installing ransomware.

After ransomware breaches a network’s security, it can spread to multiple computers in an organization, including backup servers. And while most news stories show ransomware striking large organizations, the malicious software can also infect small businesses and individuals with devastating effects.

The best way to stop ransomware is to use a ransomware scanner that analyzes a potentially malicious program’s overall structure, programming logic, and data to stop ransomware in its tracks. It would also help if you also created encrypted backups with multiple barriers to recover data after an attack. Additionally, you should also learn about some of the following common ransomware threat vectors to learn how to shield your systems.


RDP Ports

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is Microsoft’s propriety protocol that allows remote connections to other computers. Most ransomware attacks employ a backdoor approach that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in RDP software.

In fact, security researchers uncovered 25 vulnerabilities in popular RDP clients for businesses such as FreeRDP, Microsoft’s built-in RDP, and the open-source RDP client, Rdesktop. Organizations can protect RDP with firewalls, stronger passwords, RDP monitoring tools, scans, and multi-factor authentication.



You’ve probably heard of the Trojan horse Greek mythology. As the story goes, the Greeks used a giant wooden horse that secretly carried soldiers to breach the defenses of the city of Troy. The people of Troy opened their gates and brought the horse in, not aware of the dangers it held. Similarly, Trojan horse malware disguises itself as legitimate software.

Trojan malware that drops ransomware usually arrives as an innocent-looking email attachment. For example, the infamous Trojan called TrickBot can propagate through infected attachments and embedded URLs. Likewise, the highly prolific and dangerous ransomware Ryuk uses TrickBot malware to install on systems after the Trojan hits network servers.


Social Engineering

In computing, social engineering is when hackers use someone’s emotions against them to trick them into installing malware or sharing their sensitive information. A hacker may exploit feelings such as greed, anger, fear, or lust to achieve their goals. For example, they may befriend an organization’s employee on the Internet as a potential love interest in order to coerce them into downloading a Ransom Trojan. Or they may use pop-up windows to convince an organization that there’s a security breach and offer a malicious link as a solution.

Spear-phishing is a common type of social engineering attack for ransomware. An online gang may send someone in Marketing a fraudulent email from the IT department with an antivirus attachment that’s actually ransomware. The email may even urge the marketing department to install the antivirus urgently.


Exploit Kits

Software packages that specialize in exploiting software vulnerabilities are called exploit kits. A malicious website can use an exploit kit to execute a drive-by download of a ransomware strain to infect a visitor. Often, visitors are tricked into visiting such malicious websites through phishing techniques.

These are just four of the many ways ransomware can breach a computer’s defenses. A holistic approach to stopping ransomware is necessary because the malware can take spread through multiple threat vectors.

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