Ransomware: These warning signs could mean you are already under attack

Around the world, ransomware is impacting businesses and is considered to be one of the significant security threats. Ransomware attacks are growing at a rate of 350% every year so much so that one company is hit by an attack every 40 seconds. Ransomware has shaken up the cybersecurity dynamics by making sensitive data inaccessible. The statistics are alarming and have given business owners and cyber security professionals sleepless nights. 


Once the ransomware attack is detected, then there are ways to protect the business from a ransomware attack. For detecting the attack, it is essential to know about the warning signs. This is what precisely this article covers. In this article, we would talk about ransomware and the tellable signs that help detecting a ransomware attack. 


Table of Contents


  • What is Ransomware?
  • How to spot a Ransomware attack?
  • Conclusion


Cybersecurity is the backbone of all enterprises. The demand for a cyber security expert is enormous, but there are very few experienced professionals. Before getting into detail, it is recommended to check out cyber security training online. 

What is Ransomware?


It is a malicious software that displays messages demanding a fee after infecting your computer. The fee is to be paid to make the system work again. This malware class comes under the criminal money making scheme. It can be installed through deceptive links in instant messages, an email message or website. The malware can encrypt predetermined, essential files with a password and even lock a computer screen. 


The simplest type of ransomware is Scareware. It uses intimidation or scare tactics to trick users into paying up. This ransomware can come in the form of fake antivirus software which asks for an online payment to fix the various issues it claims your computer has. For this type of attack, the level varies. Users can be bombarded with endless pop-up messages and alerts or at times the computer doesn’t work at all. Another type of ransomware involves opening up a page that appears to be of a local law enforcement officer but is an impersonation. This page claims that the user has been caught carrying out illegal activities online. This ransomware can cause files to be locked in encrypted, hard-to-crack files making it almost impossible for the user to access them without paying the ransom. 


The ransom ranges from $100 to $200. Some attacks can seek much more when the data being held hostage has extreme value to the owner or company. Cybercriminals can make significant sums of money by setting up these scams. Even after the full payment of ransom, there is no guarantee that users would have full access to their systems again. Hackers can ask to pay using Bitcoin or other online methods and also demand for credit card details adding to the financial loss. Having a firewall on, avoiding questionable websites and staying alert while opening suspicious emails are some necessary prevention measures. The latest ransomware threats can be avoided by using proven antivirus software. 


How to spot a ransomware attack?


Here are some signs that point towards the presence of a ransomware attack:

  • On an average a ransomware attack can take up to 60 to 120 days to move from the initial breach to the actual attack. This is the time to spot the early signs. 
  • Files are encrypted in the end after weeks of investigation of the network’s weaknesses. The most common way of getting into corporate networks is via Remote Desktop Protocol links left open to the Internet. One should have two-factor authentication on those links or a VPN behind them. Scanning the internet-facing systems for open RDP ports is necessary for the work from home scenario. 
  • Next warning sign is unexpected network tools on the network. An attacker can control a PC via phishing emails. By just one PC, attackers can get hold of the whole network and explore where they can find to attack. If network scanners like Advanced Port Scanner or AngryIP are detected on the network, and no one internal is using it, then the security team needs to investigate.
  • Any detection of MimiKatz is a red flag. Along with Microsoft Process Explorer, it is one of the most commonly used tools by hackers to steal login details and passwords.
  • Next comes hackers creating administrator accounts, for example, in Active Directory. This gives them the power to disable security features and forcefully remove software using applications such as IOBit Uninstaller, Process Hacker and PC Hunter. Security teams need to question their sudden appearance when these legitimate and commercial tools are in wrong hands.
  • Once the attacker has admin powers, it can go further in the network using PowerShell. A cyber security expert needs to look for accounts created outside of the account management system regularly.
  • The slower the hacker moves into the system, the hard is to spot it. However, there are signs that an attack is close, such as disabled Active Directory, corrupt backups and disabled software updates.
  • The gang encrypt only a few devices to test their plan. This is the ticker warning. 
  • The most important thing is to control RDP sessions, force password change and monitor unexpected accounts.




Keeping software patched and up to date can make an organization a more laborious and less attractive target for ransomware gangs. A cyber security expert generally fixes many ransomware attacks on software flaws but these. The attacks can be slowed down by combining passwords with two-factor authentication and using the expertise of professionals with cyber security certification. If you are interested, check out the cyber security training offered by the Global Tech Council!