The well-known malware strain Locky Ransomware first surfaced in February 2016 and quickly became a popular weapon for attackers. This ransomware encrypts important files on the victim's computer, making them unusable until a ransom is paid. Locky is unique not only in its evil aim but also in its broad reach.
When Locky first appeared, it quickly spread to 18 nations in a single day, and the infection map grew to include 61 countries in the next day. In just one week, Locky had left its imprint on 109 nations on six continents. Interestingly, this virus has extended its digital talons to over 200 nations and all seven continents.
Locky is as dangerous as any other ransomware and uses social engineering to get into your systems. Primarily, locky attacked the healthcare industry. Which doesn't mean it will leave other industries. Therefore, it has become really important for businesses to get one step ahead of these social engineering and malicious techniques and safeguard their businesses.
This article will discuss Locky Ransomware, how it got into systems and asked for ransom, how business can be more aware of social engineering attack and what to do when your system get infected with Locky Ransomware.
Locky ransomware enters computer systems through various methods. One common way is through spam emails that contain harmful attachments disguised as harmless files, such as .doc, .xls, or .zip files.
A social engineering technique is initiated when the gullible user downloads the malicious attachment, encouraging them to "Enable macro if data encoding is incorrect." This seemingly benign request is a trap since it starts a binary file's execution when macros are enabled.
This binary file installs the encryption Trojan that locks particular file extensions when executed. Files become unreadable, and their filenames change to a random string of characters, making any attempt at recovery much more difficult.
That's not where the infectious process ends. The Locky Ransomware then demands that the user visit a certain website that is harmful, even if the victim is unaware of this, and download the Tor browser. The last blow is the ransom demand, which forces users to pay to unlock their encrypted files.
Locky's quiet and unrelenting assault took place between 2016 and 2018, leaving a path of serious occurrences and unfavourable outcomes in its aftermath. Mainly distributed via extensive phishing efforts, Locky skillfully employed misleading emails with a dangerous payload in Word document attachments.
Locky spared no industry, although there was a clear preference for attacking healthcare professionals. The ransomware compromised vital systems and encrypted priceless data, casting a shadow over US, Canada, France, Japan, Korea, and Thailand healthcare facilities. Such assaults on healthcare providers have consequences beyond monetary losses; they also affect patient treatment and the privacy of private medical data.
Security company AppRiver claims that on a single day in October, an astounding 23 million emails containing Locky were delivered. Between July and October 2016, according to Malwarebytes Labs, Locky was responsible for almost 14% of all ransomware detections globally, with 10% of those cases occurring in the US.
Email is Locky's primary method of quick and affordable delivery. Criminals often rent the infrastructure required to target individuals efficiently. The program sends delivery alerts, invoices, and demands for fast payment, among other seemingly ordinary topics, all posing as something benign.
Following a Locky outbreak, organisations faced a grave choice: either pay the Bitcoin ransom or risk permanently losing important data. The attackers, who were probably connected to the mysterious Dridex hackers (also known as Evil Corp or TA505) and worked in the shadows, usually sought a ransom between 0.5 and 1 Bitcoin. Combining the immediate financial expense of operating disruptions with the financial pressure arising from these payments gave Locky a tangible financial hardship and a digital menace.
Consequences of Lockey Infection
As mentioned above, Locky uses social engineering to attack systems. This means that anyone can be tricked easily in any business with many employees. Therefore, organisations need to prevent their organisation before it is too late. Here are some preventive measures against Locky ransomware:
There are still a lot of changes to getting attacked by locky ransomware, even after prevention methods. Here are the initial steps after locky ransomware infection:
Quickly isolate the infected systems from the network to prevent the ransomware from spreading further. This step helps contain the impact and limits potential damage to other connected devices.
Sever connections to network shares to prevent Locky from encrypting files in shared repositories. This step is crucial to safeguard critical data stored on network drives.
Identify the initial entry point, or "Patient Zero," to understand how the ransomware infiltrated the system. This information is valuable for enhancing security measures and preventing future incidents.
Immediately notify the IT security team or relevant person to initiate a comprehensive investigation. Time is of the essence, and swift collaboration is essential to assess the extent of the compromise.
Verify the integrity and presence of recent backups. Make sure the ransomware hasn't encrypted or compromised the backup repository.
Start the restoration procedure with clean backups. This step is essential to restore encrypted data without giving in to ransom demands.
To stop future exploitation, upgrade systems and patch vulnerabilities. System upgrades are essential for strengthening defences against dynamic attacks.
To prevent phishing attempts, fortify email security procedures. Inform users of the risks of opening dubious attachments and turn on sophisticated threat detection systems.
Work along with law enforcement to report the occurrence and obtain information. This collaboration advances efforts in cybersecurity by assisting in the detection of cybercriminals.
Be open and honest in communicating with staff, clients, and stakeholders. Establishing confidence and preparing all stakeholders for potential repercussions on operations are achieved through timely and accurate information provision.
Post-Incident study: To identify the attack pathways and vulnerabilities used, do a comprehensive post-incident study. Use this knowledge to strengthen defences against similar threats and improve security procedures.
Give staff continuous cybersecurity training as a top priority. Awareness of the threats is crucial, and knowledgeable employees may serve as the first line of defence against malware infections and phishing scams.
Incorporate streams of threat intelligence to remain current on new threats and weaknesses. By implementing proactive monitoring, organisations can modify their security posture in response to changing cyber threats.
To assess the efficacy of security measures, perform penetration tests or simulated assaults frequently. This proactive strategy aids in locating gaps and improving defences.
It takes a mix of quick thinking, thorough recovery plans, and continuous adaptive security measures to counter a Locky assault. By implementing these practices into cybersecurity processes, organisations can enhance their ability to withstand the persistent threat of ransomware.
The fight against ransomware is constant, as data is an organisation's lifeblood. A strong cybersecurity posture results from frequent system updates, stringent email security guidelines, and mock assaults. Organisations may defend themselves against the always-changing threat of Locky and its ilk by being educated, modifying defences, and cultivating a cybersecurity-aware culture.
In addition to being a look back, this book is a call to action that asks us to strengthen our digital environments and work together to overcome the many obstacles that Locky Ransomware presents. We can create a more secure digital future by being informed, alert, and taking preventative action.