A Study on Ransomware and its Effect on India and Rest of the World

DOI : 10.17577/IJERTCONV5IS22042

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A Study on Ransomware and its Effect on India and Rest of the World

Naveen Kumar C.G Research Scholar, Bharathiar University

Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India

Dr.Sanjay Pande M.B

Professor and Head of the Department GMIT, Davanagere,


Abstract- – Increased growth of internet technology pave the way to every individual and organizations to access the information in touch of fingertip. Almost all the organizations are transacting their day to day activities using internet and they are completely depend upon the internet. Internet is exposed to many type of threats and attacks, it is the responsibility of the stakeholders to secure their information by these attacks. Right now, information security is one of the top priority of the organizations and also the individuals. Cyberattack is an offensive type that targets on information systems, infrastructures, and computer networks etc. by a means of malicious act and destroys or steals the information. This paper is aimed to study the recent attack of ransomware, history of ransomware, its impact on India and rest of the world. This paper also discusses important mechanisms to prevent ransomware

KeywordsRansomware; internet; cyberattack; security;


    Technological advancements since last two decades created plenty of opportunities to eat the fruit of technology to the society. It enables organisations and individuals to adopt the present technologies to map their daily needs. Today organisations including public and private sectors using the internet technology effectively and efficiently to fulfil their day to day activities. All most all organisations providing internet enabled services to its clients. Now the internet became the backbone of organisations. But at the same time, over the years cyber-attacks and data loss are the two biggest concerns of the organisations.

    Recent attack of ransomware flustered the whole world. It raised the caution to the cyber family of the world to secure or protect their information systems from the attack of ransomware. Ransomware is a type of targeted cyber-attack.


    Cyber-attacks are socially or politically motivated attacks carried out primarily through the Internet. It uses malicious code to alter computer code, logic or data, resulting in disruptive consequences that can compromise data and lead to cybercrimes, such as information and identity theft, unauthorized web access, fake websites, and other means of stealing personal or institutional information from targets of attacks, causing far-reaching damage. Attacks target the general public or national and corporate organizations [1].


    Cyber-attacks are mainly categorized into four types, they are:

    • Targeted attack

      Cyber-attacks that are geared at particular organizations, services, and individuals to obtain private, technical, and institutional information, and other intellectual assets for the purpose of vandalism or monetary gain.

    • APT (Advanced Persistent Threat)

      A kind of targeted attack geared at a particular entity and carried out continuously and persistently using a variety of means in order to gain access to the target. APTs are mainly divided into

      1. Attacks through public servers and public websites on the Internet and

      2. Attacks against users through social engineering of target users into sending malicious programs (typical example is targeted email attack).

    • DoS (Denial of Service) attack

      A cyber-attack where the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to the Internet. Denial of service is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted machine or resource with superfluous requests in an attempt to overload systems and prevent some or all legitimate requests from being fulfilled.

    • DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack

      An attack in which multiple compromised computer systems attack a target, such as a server, website or other network resource, and cause a denial of service for users of the targeted resource. The flood of incoming messages, connection requests or malformed packets to the target system forces it to slow down or even crash and shut down, thereby denying service to legitimate users or systems.

      Fig 1: Types of cyber attacks


    Ransomware is a form of malicious software that locks up the files on your computer, encrypts them, and demands that you pay to get your files back. More modern ransomware families, collectively categorized as crypto-ransomware, encrypt certain file types on infected systems and forces users to pay the ransom through certain online payment methods to get a decrypt key.

  5. HISTORY OF RANSOMWARE Ransomware is one of the largest threat, both in home and

    at work, too. From humble beginnings, it has become an immense global business that nets millions, sometimes billions, for its creators.

    The name ransomware, derived from the two words, ransom and software, is malicious software designed to extort money from a victim, by either holding specific files hostage or by locking the entire computer until a ransom is paid.

    Hackers realize that victims are willing to pay to obtain access to their files, specifically ones that hold important, personal content, such as photos, documents or security keys. Additionally, they know that once the ransomware has been developed, the system will remain low maintenance. Because this crime does not involve credit card fraud, which typically requires mules or cloners, making financial transactions is much easier. Whether extorting $300 per user from a small business or $30 million from a multinational enterprise, the level of effort is often similar.

    Over the years there have been two distinct varieties of ransomware which remain consistent: crypto and locker based. Crypto-ransomware is ransomware variants that actually encrypt files and folders, hard drives, etc. Whereas locker-ransomware only locks users out of their devices, most often seen with Android based ransomware.

    New-age ransomware involves a combination of advanced distribution efforts such as pre-built infrastructures used to easily and widely distribute new strains as well as advanced development techniques such as using crypters to ensure reverse-engineering is extremely difficult.

    Whats important to note is that ransomware isnt new. In fact, its nearly 30-years-old. Below is a look at how this threat started and highlights of how it has evolved over time.


    1989: The first ransomware virus predates email, even the Internet as we know it, and was distributed on floppy disk by the postal service. It was named the 1989 AIDS Trojan, also known as PS Cyborg. Harvard-trained evolutionary biologist Joseph L. Popp sent 20,000 infected diskettes labeled AIDS Information Introductory Diskettes to attendees of the World Health Organizations international AIDS conference.

    But after 90 reboots, the Trojan hide directories and encrypted the names of the files on the customers computer. To regain access, the user would have to send $189 to PC Cyborg Corp. at a post office box in Panama. Popp was eventually caught and it didnt take long for decryption tools to recover the file names, but this effort set in motion over almost three decades of ransomware attacks.

    Fig 2. Trojan AIDS Ransomware

    2005-006: THE RETURN

    2005: Fake programs for spyware removal emerged. These software programs claimed to fix critical issues and wanted you to buy a license in the average of 50 U.S. dollars. In actuality, they fixed next to nothing and only exaggerated with the errors they uncovered.

    2005: In September 2005, Susan Schaibly wrote an article, Files for Ransom, for NetworkWorld magazine which contained the first known use of the term ransomware. 2006: Almost two decades after the first ransomware malware was distributed, another strain was released. But unlike before, this new strain was much more difficult to remove and used RSA encryption for the first time in ransomware history. The Archiveus Trojan encrypted everything in the My Documents directory on a system and required users to make purchases from specific websites to obtain the password to decrypt the files.


    2008: Two years after GPcode ransomware was created, GPcode.AK was unleashed and began spreading from PC to PC. Each computer GPcode.AK infected, it would lock or encrypt the victims files and require the user to pay a ransom or fee to get a code which would unlock their files. The difference between the first GPcode and GPcode.AK was the use of a 1024-bit RSA key used to lock or encrypt the victims files, making this newer version more of a nuisance and harder to crack.

    2008: Bitcoin was introduced in 2008, followed by the release of its open-source software in January 2009. These developments led to an incredible spike in ransomware attacks that have continued to increase ever since.

    2009: In 2009 a lot of fake antivirus programs compromised computer systems. They looked and acted almost the same as their legitimate counterparts, but could demand up to 100

      1. dollars for fixing problems on your PC. As a reason for the higher price, these applications provided fake technical support for years on end.

        2011-2012: LOCKER RANSOMWARE

        2011: A new type of ransomware emerged in 2011: Rather than encrypt files, Trojan. Winlock displayed a fake Windows Product Activation notice which could only be removed if the victim input an activation key. In order to acquire this key, the user was required to call an international premium rate number.

        These early strains of ransomware had one thing in common: they were easily defeated due to the weak encryption and unsophisticated infection methods used. However, cybercriminals would learn from these early failures.

        2012: A major ransomware Trojan known as Reveton began to spread throughout Europe. Based on the Citadel Trojan, the piece of ransomware claimed the computer under attack had been used for illegal activities and that in order to unlock the system, the user would be required to pay a fine using a voucher from an anonymous prepaid cash service. In some strains, the computer screen displayed footage from the computers webcam to give the illusion that the criminal was being recorded. Shortly after this incident, there was a flurry of police-based ransomware including Urausy.

        Researchers discovered new variants of Reveton in the U.S., claiming to require the payment of a $200 fine to the FBI using a MoneyPak card.

        Fig 3: Police Ransomware


        2013: 2013 saw the birth of Cryptolocker, a crypto- ransomware that was spread via email. Cryptolocker demanded that the victim pay $400 in Bitcoin within 72 hours. This ransomware infected half a million computers, and 1.3 percent of the victims paid the ransom. The attackers netted an estimated $27 million from their victims.

        An international collaborative effort called Operation Tovar was formed to crack down on Cryptolocker and another ransomware program, the Gameover Zeus botnet. As a result, Russian hacker Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev was caught and charged as an administrator of both Cryptolocker and Gameover Zeus.

        2014: CryptoDefense is released. It uses Tor and bitcoin for anonymity and 2,048-bit encryption. However, because it uses Windows built-in encryption APIs, the private key is stored in plain text on the infected computer. Despite this flaw, the hackers still manage to extort at least $34,000 in the first month, according to Symantec.

        2015: An aggressive Android ransomware strain started to spread across America in September. Security researchers at ESET discovered the first real example of malware capable of resetting the PIN of your phone to permanently lock you out of your own device. Dubbed LockerPin, the ransomware changes the infected devices lock screen PIN code and leaves victims with a locked mobile screen. LockerPin then demanded $500 to unlock the device.

        2016: The first official Mac OSX-based ransomware, KeRanger was discovered in 2016, delivered via a Transmission BitTorrent client for OSX. The ransomware was signed with a MAC development certificate, allowing it to bypass Apples GateKeeper security software.

        2016: The Jigsaw ransomware became the first of its kind in which the ransom note contained the popular Jigsaw characters from the movie series SAW. It also threatened to delete a file every 60 minutes if the $150 ransom was not paid. Additionally, if a victim attempted to stop the process or restart their machine, it then deleted 1,000 files.


        On May 12, 2017, various organizations around the world had been affected by a massive ransomware attack. WannaCry infected more than 200,000 networks in 150 countries. The attackers exploited a Windows XP vulnerability used by the NSA for espionage and surveillance.

        disguised as fake PDF files in email attachments which appear to be legitimate correspondence from reputable companies such as banks and other financial institutions, notices with tracking numbers. Attackers will use email addresses and subjects (purchase orders, bills, complaints, and other business communications) that will entice a user to read the email and open the attachment. Another method involves tricking unwitting users into opening Order Confirmation emails by asking them to confirm an online e- commerce order, purchase or package shipment.

        Some attackers will use Shortened malicious URLs to mask a malicious link, obfuscating a malicious destination and malicious script (i.e. JavaScript (.js) file) downloader.

        WHATS NEXT?

        Fig 4. WannaCry Ransomware

        Still another technique uses spam emails and social engineering to infect a system by enticing users to open an infected word document with embedded macro viruses and convince them to manually enable macros that allow the malicious code to run.

        The threat of ransomware continues to evolve, with a new spin on extortionware, called doxware, thats designed to target and potentially expose sensitive data of ransomware victims. The term "doxware" is a combination of doxing posting hacked personal information online and ransomware. Attackers notify victims that their sensitive, confidential or personal files will be released online. If contact lists are also stolen, the perpetrators may threaten to release information to the lists or send them links to the online content.

        Doxware and ransomware share some similarities. They both encrypt the victims files, both include a demand for payment, and both attacks are highly automated. However, in a ransomware attack, files do not have to be removed from the target; encrypting the files is sufficient. A doxware attack is meaningless unless the files are uploaded to the attackers system. Uploading all of the victims files is unwieldy, so doxware attacks tend to be more focused, prioritizing files that include trigger words such as confidential, privileged communication, sensitive or private.


    According to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCRT), under the Department of Homeland Security, ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software. Exprts say that WannaCry is spread by an internet worm — software that spreads copies of itself by hacking into other computers on a network, rather than the usual case of prompting unsuspecting users to open attachments. It is believe that the cyber-attack was carried out with the help of tools stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States.

    Typically ransomware spread and delivered through social engineering (trickery) and user interaction…opening a malicious email attachments (usually from an unknown or unsolicited source), clicking on a malicious link within an email or on a social networking site. Crypto malware can be

    Social engineering has become one of the most prolific tactics for distribution of malware, identity theft and fraud.

    Crypto malware can also be delivered via malvertising attacks, exploit kits and drive-by downloads when visiting compromised web sites. An Exploit Kit is a malicious tool with pre-written code used by cyber criminals to exploit vulnerabilities (security holes) in outdated or insecure software applications and then execute malicious code.

    Some victims have encountered crypto malware from ransomware malware executables, packaged NW.js application using JavaScript or following a previous infection from one of several botnets such as Zbot (frequently used in the cyber-criminal underground) which downloads and executes the ransomware as a secondary payload from infected websites.

  7. GENERAL IMPACT OF RANSOMWARE Ransomware not only targets home users; businesses can

    also become infected with ransomware, leading to negative consequences, including [9]

        • Temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information,

        • Disruption to regular operations,

        • Financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and

        • Potential harm to an organizations reputation.

    Paying the ransom does not guarantee the encrypted files will be released; it only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victims money, and in some cases, their banking information. In addition, decrypting files does not mean the malware infection itself has been removed.


    Gulshan Rai, the Cyber Security Chief in the PMO said that, there are no major incident in India. As a preventionary mechanism The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), issued an advisory asking organizations to install updates to Windows systems, a possible remote exploitation of this vulnerability. The agency advised that the patch released by Microsoft be applied.

    CERT has checked hundreds of systems since alerted cyber- attack. The attacks seem to be the result of a vulnerability in the Microsoft windows OS.

    CERT-In explained that this ransomware called WannaCrypt or WannaCry encrypts the computers hard disk drive and then spreads laterally between computers on the same local area network.

    According to Kaspersky, only about 5% attacks were reported in India. Quick Heal Technologies Ltd, the maker of antivirus software, has said detected detected over 48,000 MS-17- 010 Shadow Broker exploit hits responsible for WannaCry ransomware outbreak in India, with West Bengal witnessing the most incidents.

    The company said 60% of the ransomware attack attempts by the malicious WannaCry virus were targeted at enterprises, while the rest were on individual customers. Quick Heal received nearly 700 distress calls by customers following the discovery of the attacks which has impacted 150 countries globally.

    The top five cities impacted by the ransomware attack are Kolkata followed by Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Pune and Mumbai, while the top five states with maximum detections of WannaCry virus are West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi NCR, and Odisha.

    Quick Heal claimed that it successfully detected the ransomware attack and cleaned the malicious file responsible for file encryption from all the attacked systems.

    Indian computer systems have largely escaped a global ransomware attack as the government and companies installed security patches to gain an upper hand against the first wave of an unrivalled global cyber-attack.

    A global cyberattack unleashed that more than 200,000 computers across more than 150 countries were affected by the "ransomware," called "WannaCry,"

    Microsoft recently published a data mentioning how many machines (users) were affected by ransomware attacks across the world. It was found that the United States was on the top of ransomware attacks; followed by Italy and Canada. Here are the top 20 countries which are majorly affected by ransomware attacks.


    The best way to protect the computer is to create regular backups of files. The malware only affects files that exist in the computer. If the machine is infected by ransomware, reset the machine using backup and reinstall the software and restore all the files from the backup.

    According to Microsofts Malware Protection Centre, other precautions include regularly updating your anti-virus program; enabling pop-up blockers; updating all software periodically; ensure the smart screen (in Internet Explorer) is turned on, which helps identify reported phishing and malware websites; avoid opening attachments that may appear suspicious. As the popular saying Prevention is better than Cure. Here are a few steps you can take to tackle or deal with ransomware attacks:

    • Windows users advised to keep their Windows Operating System up-to-date. It is advisable upgrade to windows 10

    • Always back-up your important data in an external hard-drive.

    • Enable file history or system protection.

    • Beware of phishing emails, spam, and check the email before clicking the malicious attachment.

    • Disable the loading of macros in Office programs.

    • Disable your Remote Desktop feature whenever possible.

    • Use two-factor authentication.

    • Use a safe and password-protected internet connection.

    • Avoid browsing websites that are often the breeding grounds for malware such as illegal download sites, porn sites and gambling sites.

    • Install, use, and regularly update an antivirus solution

    • Make use of some good anti-ransomware software

    • Dont pay the ransom. As tempting as it may seem, it wont guarantee that you will get your files back and it simply helps to fund criminals.


    The nature of internet is vulnerable to threats. Hence cyber security must be the top priority of the organizations. Organizations should implement necessary security policies to avoid security breaches. The recent attack of ransomware, a malware program which flustered the whole world. It is the need of the hour to take precautionary mechanisms to avoid ransomware attacks further.


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  2. https://spideroak.com/ransomware/timeline

  3. The History Of Ransomware: Where It Started And Where Its Going by Ladan Nikravan Hayes

  4. http://www.complete-it.co.uk/a-brief-history-of- ransomware/

  5. http://www.nec.com/en/global/solutions/safety/info_manag ement/cyberattack.html

  6. https://medium.com/threat-intel/ransomware-history- 3165f10ab5a5

  7. https://www.datto.com/uk/blog/the-history-of-ransomware

  8. http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/cert- in-alert-on-ransomware-attack/article18448177.ece

  9. https://security.berkeley.edu/faq/ransomware/what- possible-impact-ransomware

  10. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39920141

  11. http://www.thewindowsclub.com/ransomware-attacks- definition-faq

  12. www.wikepedia.com

  13. http://www.informationsecuritybuzz.com/articles/a-brief- history-of-ransomware/

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