How Ransomware eludes antivirus software

  • Author

    Binny Chanchal
  • Published

In the early 1980s computer viruses were an issue. It affected the smooth functioning of the computers. The antivirus software was introduced in a bid to control the viruses that affect the system, you might be aware that a computer virus is a self-repeating program that will affect the functioning of the software. It is usually created with malicious intentions. Antivirus software would scan the files in real-time and delete or warn you about the potential threat. Antivirus software is in use since the 1980s. It is one of the important tools in cybersecurity as well. However, advancements in technology bring with it new challenges. Ransomware is one such challenge. The traditional antivirus software is not effective against ransomware

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware refers to a form of malware. It will infect the device and encrypt the messages in it. The ransomware is specifically designed with this goal in mind. However, ransomware is a big threat to organizations as the damages it can cause is heavy. Also, it accounts for 10% of all the breaches involved. The cybersecurity ventures estimate that the damage costs due to ransomware can exceed about $265 billion by the year 2031. Therefore it is important to find effective means to prevent ransomware attacks.

Antivirus software vs Ransomware

The purpose of the antivirus software is to stop the self-replicating programs developed with malicious intentions. If you understand the working of the anti-virus software, you will be able to understand why it is not effective against ransomware attacks. The two detection methods that antivirus software features include

Signature-based detection- It refers to a digital signature that will distinguish it from all other software. The antivirus applications are usually loaded with a database of virus signatures. Therefore, they will compare files in real-time. If the signature matches the file it would be marked as malicious and it would be handled accordingly.

Heuristics – It is possible to change the digital signatures. You just have to modify a single line of code and it would be different from the database of digital signatures of the viruses. The antivirus applications come up with wild card characters to account for inexact matches.

How does Ransomware Work?

The ransomware attacks involve phishing. It refers to email messages that are meant to trick the recipients. When you open the phishing email thinking that it is from a legitimate sender, you will be made to click on a malicious link. The link would lead to a website that will trigger malicious codes. They will go to the system memory directly. This will affect the detection methods of the traditional antivirus software applications.

once this happens, the malicious code will get fixed to legitimate applications like the windows power shell. It will enhance the privileges of the malicious software. The result is that it will start encrypting all files in your system. They are also referred to as fileless malware techniques. But, this is not the only way to distribute ransomware. But it is one of the common methods. However, it is not detected by antivirus software easily.

The best way to prevent it is to have next generation-advanced antivirus solutions that use Artificial intelligence and machine learning. They will detect malicious behavior including the attack on PowerShell. You should also educate the employees about the tactics used for phishing. It will work as the first line of defense. Last but not least proper maintenance of cyber security software will help reduce ransomware threats.