Can Ransomware Spread Through Wi-Fi Networks

A Detailed Guide On Typical Targets And Threat Prevention. A couple of times in the New Year, I deep dive into the cybersecurity statistics and cyber attacks that happened over the years. Ransomware attacks will reportedly increase to every 11 seconds by the year 2022. Overall, 9% of the American population becomes a cyberattack victim. A famous example I will be quoting here is from the Kaseya Attack, 2021, which compromised the data of 1500 consumers. It was a crucial attack on the company’s supply chain system conducted by ‘REvil Ransomware.’ 

Many security executives from the companies have said they are unprepared for these attacks. Is it the truth? Let’s dive deep into the world of ransomware to understand it better.

What is Ransomware? – A Deep Insight

Can Ransomware Spread through Wi-Fi Networks? Many people ask me this common question whenever we witness such attacks globally. The attacks compromise the very essence of the confidentiality of an organization. 

RANSOMWARE typically suggests paying a RANSOM to get access to particular information. It is a kind of malicious software that affects the computers of an organization, industry, or individual. The data cannot be accessed until the organization or a person accepts a ransom offer. Phishing is a way to access an organization’s confidential information. If the computers are connected through a Wi-Fi network, it takes seconds for the ransomware to spread and lock all the computers. The year 2022 marks the 15th anniversary of the RANSOMWARE ATTACKS. Almost 23896 security breaches were identified, of which 5212 is a confirmed number. I noticed that these attacks have increased by 13% in past years. 

Typical Targets of Ransomware Attacks

Who does Ransomware typically target? Again, a very thoughtful question has erupted in my mind when writing these kinds of articles. A typical target of this malicious software is the industries/organizations that store confidential public information. Financial information is being held at the helm. Majorly the victims are the Utility sector, Banking sector, and Retail sector. Other sectors that have been under attack are:

  • Supply Chain
  • Education Sector
  • Legal Services
  • Business and Professional Services Providers
  • Manufacturing Sector
  • Central Government
  • Energy Sector
  • IT Sector
  • Defense Sector

The list may go on, but these are some significant sectors that store much confidential and personal information. Despite global efforts to curb this menace, the attacks have significantly increased. The year 2022 is a watchdog year for curbing these attacks to stop the lethal effects. A roadmap for security will be laid down at the 2022 RSA Conference in San Francisco to create cyber awareness. 

Ransomware Attacks Spreading Through Wi-Fi Networks

Another thing that may come to everyone’s mind is that can ransomware spread through Wi-Fi. 

Yes, it affects the chain of computers connected over a similar network leading to a severe breach of business data. It operates as a ‘computer worm’ that, once started traveling, never stops. Cloud Storage can also get affected if a malicious local file from One Drive or Dropbox is synced with the Cloud. The situation seems like a ‘hostage’ where the hacker is in full control of the computers in an organization. Evidently, they want the organizations to meet their demands to release the decryption key.

A contaminated or infected connection shows the ransom demanding message that sends the message across the organization that a security breach has been conducted. For prevention, it’s suggested to secure the PCs and the routers. A Ransomware attack can be prevented by checking for infected external drives. 

I have seen different classes of ransomware infecting the Wi-Fi networks and computers over time. So, considering a universal pattern of protecting your Wi-Fi network can save you from untoward incidents.

Ways Ransomware Spreads Through Wi-Fi Networks

American organizations experienced malicious attack activities in 2021 that compromised their versatile sectors. Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI received almost 3729 ransomware attack complaints. A loss of more than $2.4 billion was already registered by the end of 2021. Though the cyber awareness conference was held in June 2022, the percentage increase in malicious attacks has not come down.

How does Ransomware spread through a network? A typical question that we all want to get acknowledged. By getting abreast with the ways, we can also curate threat prevention. Here are a few ways through which Ransomware attack spreads.

  • Spray and Pray Tactics: A locking technique that prevents victims from accessing their files. They have to pay a smart Ransom to get back access to their data. Most newbie hackers use this tact using dark web scripts. It includes the loading of ‘crypto-malware payloads’ on the organization’s network.
  • Customized Attacks: These attacks are lodged on specific organizations and companies. Hackers keep on tracking those organizations that are negligent about their back-ups and threat detection and only apply traditional anti-malware solutions.
  • Poorly Protected Network: Security vulnerability leads to ransomware attacks. A poorly protected Wi-Fi leads to breach activities. The strong ransomware virus spread from computer to computer within less time. 
  • Phishing Attacks: Common Phishing attacks happen through emails lodged directly into the victim’s computer. An extensively researched and convincing email is sent with ZIP files or PDF sheets attached to launch these kinds of attacks.
  • Malicious Advertising: I have seen many malicious ads that say- ‘Click on the Link to Make Money in Your Spare Time’. What I do is ignore these kinds of ads. A few people fall prey to these false and lucrative advertisements. Hackers purchase the legit Ad space on the internet to launch the Click Bait attacks to spread Ransomware into your device.

Ransomware attacks on vulnerable networks are launched purposefully. This is to earn a handsome amount and exploit the vulnerabilities of the people or organizations.

How To Secure Your Network From Spreading Ransomware?

Federal laws have already been enacted to help organizations get saved from ransomware attacks. Guidance by the FBI states, “Don’t pay the ransom, just report it.”

However, securing your wireless network from spreading ransomware means you must first curb the damage. You can carry out the following steps:

  • I suggest you immediately cut off the infected standpoint from the network. If there is any shared storage, immediately isolate it to stop the spread of ransomware.
  • Each malware requires a different response. Run the identification tool to identify the malicious files or data. It will give a better picture of what to isolate from the company’s network.
  • Call the cybersecurity experts to determine the different approaches to preventing ransomware from spreading through a whole network.
  • FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center undertakes counter-attack measures after the complaint is lodged. Swift action on the attack is a must when companies are dealing with confidential customer data.
  • Assess the Wi-Fi and other networks to identify the starting point of the ransomware attack. It will help you to prevent these kinds of breaches in the future.

Authentication of the server is a must when securing your organization’s network. Triple security using the options like MSPs, ISPs, and SPs must be used. The two-factor authentication method can also save the day by denying suspicious access requests. A recovery data backup plan can save your day. You must keep all important and confidential data on the agile and authentic servers to recover them after a security breach. The standpoint is to keep this crucial backup aloof from the company’s Wi-Fi network.

Threat Prevention Against Wi-Fi Ransomware

Cybersecurity personnel is creating awareness against most of the malware attacks that have happened in recent years. The threat prevention against Wi-Fi Ransomware must be initialized by securing and authenticating the company’s Wi-Fi network. An encrypted network can save the day. 

There are a few best ways to prevent Ransomware through Wi-Fi. These are the possible best cures accordingly.

  • Use Firewall Technology: Web Application Firewall protects against cyberattacks. It monitors and filters the traffic going to and from the web service. Web server vulnerabilities can expose APIs to dangerous traffic. The firewall technology helps keep contents over the web server secured.
  • Be Fast To Incident Responses: Organizations must carry out data backup and store the things off the network. Be sure to take the backup test to ensure proper recovery at any moment. Always keep your incident response plan handy. If the ransomware attack is lodged, call the respective forensic teams.
  • Network Port Settings Review: Ransomware attacks mostly take advantage of Server Message Block Port 445 and RDP Port 3389. You must consider limiting these port options and opening them to trusted hosts only. Organizations must review these port settings for Cloud Environment and On-Premises settings to disable any unused Remote Desktop Protocol ports.
  • Use Multi-Layered Approach: Multi-layered security can be applied to organizational networks using anti-spyware, anti-virus, and intrusion prevention. Avoid the single architectural model for security, and use the multi-layered approach to avoid any failure.
  • Patch Your System Applications: Common usable browsers and apps are the easiest ways to launch a full-scale ransomware attack. It must update the applications and browsers regularly to avert any malware attack. I choose automated patching of the systems to avoid any vulnerability. Moreover, a well-knit application environment can go a long way in addressing any threat.

Can Ransomware spread through LAN? 

Yes, this malicious malware can spread from LAN to the computer. One of the popular examples is the ‘Ryuk Ransomware’ that has a worm-like capability to spread to any Windows machine. It leads to the compromise of the entire network of an organization. This ransomware launched over a network has made predominantly $150 million as a ransom in the form of Bitcoin payments. The ransomware moves from a single machine to other computers and spreads like a worm. It drastically disrupts industrial capabilities and efficiency if security steps are not taken over time. Two-router applicability or user authentication can curb the spread of the virus through the LAN system. 

Can Ransomware Spread To Phone?

Yes, it can spread to the phone through a corporate Wi-Fi network if it gets exposed to employees having infected malware or information on personal mobile devices. The term is known as ‘Mobile Ransomware.’ It happens in the BYOD environment, where employees are free to connect to the workplace’s Wi-Fi device. This ransomware travel through an infected network or the device to other devices. It can affect iPhones and Android devices through a malicious ransomware file. It leads to locking the users’ phones, and they can only decrypt them when they pay a specific amount or pays a voucher of certain dollars as a ransom.

Can Ransomware spread through VPN? 

This is another question that keeps coming to most of us, and even I think about it way back when using public Wi-Fi to update my iPhone. Well, yes! VPNs or Virtual Private Network is a hot spot to get you into the ransomware soup. A few experts state a private secured network protects your device or network against malicious attacks. 

I hope this article has clarified what Ransomware is. How does Ransomware spread through a network? Best ways to prevent ransomware through Wi-Fi and more. 

I need to correct this myth as VPN networks majorly play the role of paving the way for potential attackers. VPN attacks rose after COVID, specifically stated in 2021 when people started working from home. The private networks can be sabotaged easily. To safeguard your VPN system, a secured software solution must be used along with multi-factor authentication. It will help in preventing security breaches into your private network. Never share your username or password in public over social media or messages. Always change your passwords after three months. It must be strong and complex to make it unreachable, and MFA should be your go-to option. 

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