Spot the Difference - Malware Versus Ransomware

With cybersecurity attacks on the rise, recognizing technical terminology could save you from your next potential data breach.

Written by: Deandra Rodricks

Did you know that 230,000 new malware samples are produced every day? (3) It is important to define these samples and what they could mean for your organization. Malware and ransomware - two words that are familiar to the tech industry but may cause confusion to those working outside. Incidents involving malware and ransomware have been rapidly increasing, and have found their way into grocery stores, banks, schools, or any system with personal data. Hence, understanding what malware and ransomware mean, and being able to distinguish them has become extremely vital.

Malware is a shortened term for "malicious software". Like the term suggests, it is a software (program, file, etc.) that is created to damage a system illegally. Some examples of malware include viruses, bugs, worms, and trojans. Malware can approach a working system through messages, emails, attachments, downloads, or phishing websites. Once a malware has entered a system, attackers gain full access to confidential information and are able to view, corrupt, and/ or destroy that data. Statistics show that due to the pandemic, the rate of malicious emails has gone up 600%. (2)

Ransomware is a type of malware that cannot be stabilized through an antivirus program or any other resolution methods. The only way to escape a ransomware is by paying a ransom to the attackers. This is especially harsh on smaller companies as paying a heavy ransom result in tremendous losses, placing a financial burden on these organizations.

A recent ransomware attack that occurred in July 2021 has affected 1,500 businesses and the demand was set to $70 million. Nearly 17 countries have been hit by this attack including several grocery stores in Sweden and schools in New Zealand. (7) The complete amplitude of this ransomware is still being calculated. This is just one example among the numerous ones that occur every single day. An estimate of 304 million ransomware attacks occurred in 2020 and are expected to only keep growing.(8)

With the amplifying rates in malware and ransomware, taking precautionary and preventive measures for your organization is important. Some measures include a secure method of authentication, limiting administrator accounts, completing software updates, performing regular backups, and implementing a security system for phishing emails. (1)

The most common method of delivery for malware and ransomware is phishing emails; so, if you are unsure about an email, inquire about it before clicking or entering your credentials. Educate co-workers about these measures because one additional step can protect your entire organization.

Looking for where to start your journey in protecting against malware and ransomware attacks? Here are a few suggestions we have for continued employee training:

(1) 10 Security Tips for How to Prevent Malware Infections
(2) 81 Ransomware Statistics, Data, Trends and Facts for 2021 | Varonis
(3) 2021 Cyber Security Statistics: The Ultimate List Of Stats, Data & Trends | PurpleSec
(4) Difference between Malware and Ransomware - GeeksforGeeks
(5) Knowing the Difference Between Ransomware vs. Malware
(6) Malware & Ransomware | Cybersecurity
(7) REvil ransomware group demands $70 million to unlock data - The Washington Post
(8) Number of ransomware attacks per year 2020 | Statista