The Difference Between Ransomware and Malware

iQuanti: Like Covid-19, malware has multiple variants with the potential for continuous evolution - which cybercriminals have utilized throughout time. Methods for malware and ransomware attacks have become more sophisticated, and understanding those intricacies is crucial to protecting your business.  

What Is Malware?

Malware is an overarching term for "malicious software" that includes ransomware and refers to malicious software that corrupts a system, device, data, or network. 

Malware poses a threat to an organization by potentially compromising its devices, whether by slowing down its functionality or breaching its security. That data can then be used to control your device for nefarious activities.

Spreading Malware

Malware spreads in various ways - just like biological viruses. For example, the infection can occur by downloading free software, clicking a malicious link, email attachments, compromised USB drives, and file sharing. 

Another method that cyberattackers use to deploy malware is called "scareware." This is the use of fake programs that advertise protecting you from viruses. In practice, after the scareware is installed, you will be prompted to click a link to clean up the virus that will introduce more malware.

Malware on the Rise

In 2020, 61% of organizations experienced malware activity that spread from one employee to another, and in 2021 that number rose to 74%, according to the 2021 State of Email Security report by cloud cybersecurity firm, Mimecast. 

Other Examples of Malware 

  • Worms- A standalone program that can self-multiply and spread over a network.
  • A Trojan - A kind of malware designed to look like a valid application you would download but actually infects your system. 
  • Viruses - A common type of malware that is embedded in software or files and infects the system when run. 
  • Ransomware - A type of malware that threatens to expose the victim's confidential data or block access to it until a ransom is paid.

Simply put, there are many forms of malware, ransomware being one of them.  

What Is Ransomware and How Does it Work?

Ransomware blocks access to your device, data, and other personal information. The cyberattackers encrypt this information and hold it hostage until a ransom is paid. Unfortunately, ransomware is often very difficult to remove, and paying the ransom does not guarantee that the criminals will give back access to your data or prevent them from leaving alternate entries to your system that they can use for financial gain at a later time.

The Spread of Ransomware

The most commonly used tactic for implementing malware is through malicious links. For example, targets of a ransomware attack are duped into clicking an email that triggers the ransomware download to their device. These emails may fraudulently appear to be from an acquaintance.

Handling Cybersecurity Threats

Cybersecurity is one of the most crucial challenges for organizations to tackle. In combination with other variations of malware, ransomware poses a severe threat to the security of an organization. 

The best way to protect yourself from cyberattacks is by improving your cybersecurity practices with robust tools and employee training.  

Source: iQuanti, Inc.