What is Ransomware Attack and How Does it Work?


Ransomware Attack

A ransomware attack is a type of malware that encrypts files or locks a user out of their system and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key or access to the system. The attack typically involves the delivery of malware through social engineering tactics, the execution of the malware on the user’s system, and the encryption of files followed by a ransom demand.

What is Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is malware designed to deny access to files on an organization’s computers. By encrypting these files and demanding ransom money for the decryption key, cybercriminals put organizations in a position where paying the ransom becomes the easiest and cheapest way to gain access to their files. To provide further incentives for ransomware victims to pay the ransom Some variants have added additional functionality – such as data theft

Ransomware has quickly become one of the most prominent and visible forms of malware. The recent surge in ransomware incidents has had a major impact on hospitals and other organizations, leading to a decrease in critical services, public infrastructures being disabled in cities, and considerable economic loss.

Why Are Ransomware Attacks Emerging?

The craze of modern ransomware started with the WannaCry outbreak of 2017. Ransomware attacks on this scale were possible and potentially profitable. This is demonstrated by the highly publicized attack. The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a surge in ransomware. As organizations increasingly move to remote working, gaps have arisen in their cyber security. 

How Ransomware Works:

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts files or locks a user out of their system and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key or access to the system. Here we have explained how a ransomware attack works:


Ransomware is usually delivered through social engineering tactics such as phishing emails, malvertising, or exploit kits. A phishing email may contain an attachment or link that, when opened, executes the ransomware on the user’s system. Advertisements are infected ads that appear on legitimate websites, and exploit kits are software that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in a user’s system to deliver malware.


Once the ransomware is delivered, it executes on the user’s system. The malware may take several actions to evade detection, such as disabling antivirus software or network security measures. It may also communicate with a command-and-control server to receive further instructions, download additional malware, or exfiltrate data.


After the ransomware is activated, it begins to encrypt files on the user’s system, rendering them inaccessible. Some ransomware encrypts only specific file types, such as documents or images, while others encrypt the entire hard drive. The user is then presented with a ransom note, which typically demands payment in exchange for the decryption key or access to the system.

Common Techniques Used by Ransomware Attackers:

Phishing Emails: Attackers may use phishing emails that appear to be from a trusted source to trick users into downloading and executing ransomware.


Malvertising is when attackers infect legitimate ads with malware. When a user clicks on the ad, the ransomware is downloaded onto their system.

Exploit Kits: 

Exploit kits are software that is used to exploit vulnerabilities in a user’s system to deliver malware. Attackers can use these kits to deliver ransomware onto a user’s system.

How to Protect Against Ransomware?

  • Utilize Best Practices

Proper preparation can dramatically reduce the cost and impact of a ransomware attack. Adopting several best practices can reduce an organization’s exposure to ransomware and also reduce its impact:

  1. Cyber Awareness Training and Education
  2. Continuous data backups
  3. Patching
  4. User Authentication
  • Reduce the Attack on Surface
  1. Phishing Messages
  2. Mobile Malware
  3. Unpatched Vulnerabilities
  4. Remote Access Solutions
  • Deploy Anti-Ransomware Solution
  1. Fast detection
  2. Automatic restoration
  3. Wide variant detection
  4. Restore mechanism not based on common built-in tools (such as ‘shadow copy’, which is targeted by some ransomware variants)

How to Mitigate an Active Ransomware Infection?

Many successful ransomware attacks are detectable only after data encryption is complete and a ransom note appears on the computer screen.

  • Quarantine the Machine
  • Leave the Computer On
  • Create a Backup
  • Check for Decryptors
  • Ask For Help
  • Wipe and Restore


Ransomware attacks have become a huge threat to humans and businesses alike. Understanding what ransomware is, how it works, and how to prevent and respond to attacks is crucial for protecting against this type of cybercrime. By implementing best practices for cybersecurity and having a plan in place for responding to attacks, individuals and businesses can minimize the potential impact of a ransomware attack.