Our world is constructed within the tiny pixels of computers and the ever-growing advancements in the world of technology. Human beings tend to complicate the easiest of things into the most intricate of concepts to ever exist. The capability of a human mind to create something out of the most mundane things in life is commendable enough.
Technology was a medium or rather a gift that was offered to humans to experiment with. Their creative side not only bloomed but also faced the relevant consequences. Computers were used and put to great use but there were alarming side effects associated with the same.
Indeed, technology is constantly growing with advancements and increasing accessibility to areas that were less talked about. At the same time, in reveling in the positives we neglect the negatives that lurk in the background.
One of the common problems that the world of computers and technology faces is its interaction with unwanted and harmful viruses. These viruses can render to silence the efficacy that technology brings to the table. This piques curiosity in our minds. What could these viruses be?
1. Computer Viruses & Their Attacks
We have narrowed down the problems technology faces thanks to its exposure to lots of data and information daily. Virus attacks are common and not a phenomenon that has been discovered recently. They are highly effective and can erase any kind of information even confidential forms are deemed to be useless upon contact with it.
So what are these viruses? Where do they emerge from?
The viruses that affect us biologically do not have any relation with the malicious malware that corrupts the software of the computer. Although both can be tied together concerning affecting the well-being and functioning of humans and computers.
They can be defined as a maladaptation of software that fixates itself on another program and replicates itself and can disrupt the daily functioning of a computer, removing and adding malicious information which can be unrelated to the user potential of putting the individual in danger.
Virus Attacks, as mentioned are not a fairly new phenomenon. Some of the viruses that are emerging might be something new to discover and the extent of their harmfulness goes might go miles. Their origin has some intricate aspects that need to be looked into to understand the present anomaly.
The first computer virus that emerged was called ‘The Creeper System’. It was one of the first instances when the identification of such forces came into being. The concept of computer viruses was first theorized by German mathematician and father of game theory, John Von Neumann according to Exobeam. How did this come to be identified?
In the year 1969, an experimental computer network called ARPANET was regarded as the precursor to the internet. This was initially designed for communication systems to span over computers among users. The virus was visible through this process, which, much to the surprise of users, displayed on their screens ‘I am the creeper, catch me if you can!’
Dramatic much? It’s as if these viruses are so sure of bringing a collapse to the world of technology and bringing forth the destruction of human life by annihilating all the computers in the world.
Then in the 1970s, the emergence of more viruses erupted, and there were more risks to the data that is stored in computers. Specifically, we are talking about the Rabbit Virus, which wrecked the working and functional aspects of the computer rendering it useless.
However threatening reading about history may sound, the degree of destruction is intensified in the future. Various types of viruses can be harmful to the hardware as well as the computer software. However the most violent of attacks remains ransomware attacks which have gained prominence in 2023.
2. Ransomware Attacks: What Can They Do?
A lot of reports and news articles mention that ransomware attacks are the most harmful mode of virus attacks. Ransomware attacks are the most recent phenomenon that was found in the most common virus attacks. These are called email attacks or phishing.
Phishing doesn’t only restrict its boundaries to email attacks but also poses the user with various other risks. These hazards include exposing confidential information such as credit card numbers, user login credentials, and necessary user data.
When specifically talking about email attacks, it is usually prone to more risk. In short, the attacker can find many loopholes through which they can strike the user with.
The attacker starts by sending out fraudulent messages in email inboxes. Impersonation of websites is a common happening in these messages wherein, the attacker prompts the user to click on the links. The visuals of these websites are the replica of the recovery sites that the user comes in contact with to revive their bank accounts. The fraudulent activity, in turn, leads to them losing important information and money to frauds, hackers, and relevant people.
With a brief overview of what viruses could do to the well-being of computers, let’s look into the extreme form through which they can do the damage, namely, ransomware attacks.
3. Ransomware Attacks
According to various reports and instances, ransomware attacks are a type of malware through which the attacker seizes important information from the user. This may vary in many forms such as the user’s computer data, folders, and files.
What happens? The attacker poses a vicious restriction for access to these elements in the device, demanding payment usually by BITCOIN for its return to the original owner. This is why it’s emphasized and named as ‘ransomware attacks. With the required payment, the user is being threatened with their private information and user files, which is why this term came into being to describe this phenomenon.
3.1 World Numbers
Before looking into the hazardous effects that are infused into the system, the rising numbers in the occurrence of ransomware attacks are quite alarming and deeply unsettling, to say the least.
According to Techrader. pro, email, and ransomware attacks have dominated the cybercrime space in the year, 2022. Based on a survey, it was seen that about 18 million users have reported with about 135 million reports regarding the rise of phishing attacks.
On paper, at least it is shown that ransomware attacks are a major threat. If we are concerned about the statistics, on a global level, more than three-quarters of users (76%) have experienced such attacks with about two-thirds (64%) of users falling prey to the same. About 52% of the users gained access to their lost files and data after making the required ransom payment.
3.2 Awareness of Ransomware Attacks
The emergence of such attacks is often gone unnoticed thanks to the negligence of such a phenomenon. We are still not accustomed to the upcoming trends that have uprooted our traditional way of living. This way, we are still not aware of the viral attacks being faced on our systems.
Researchers have concluded that ransomware attacks have been the major form of threat computing users have been facing. However, they do not have an awareness of when such attacks happen. Experts have come to the opinion that users do not have the idea that they are being exploited by these attacks.
Awareness becomes a potent force when these attacks become the major focus. There is a need to be vigilant when encountering such attacks and secure the data and necessary files that are at risk of being lost rather than risk them to this malicious malware which is later put up for ransom.
3.3 Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack
It is one of the recent cases in the USA which intensifies the effect that ransomware attacks could have on our world if not dealt with earlier. This is one of the instances which put malware attacks into centric focus.
In the USA, there was a strange case that revealed the true colors of these viruses. The longest fuel pipeline ever in the country remained paralyzed for a very long time. What caused these strange phenomena? The answer to this was obvious to what is being discussed here. According to CNN Politics, a ransomware cyberattack alert was put across which shut down all operations.
The victim was the hard hit and it was a company named Colonial Pipeline which helps in the transportation of Tonnes of fuel from Houston to New York.
Colonial Pipeline fell prey to the viciousness of the ransomware attacks. The question was however left lingering in people’s minds, how did the effect of a ransomware attack be powerful enough to stop the functioning of a pipeline?
This case study was indeed peculiar and requires a detailed eye to look in. There was a clear agenda in posing this attack on a reputed pipe company. It might have been political, but the need to be aware of such attacks is increasing tremendously.
3.4 Who’s Responsible?
Who could it be that has evoked a huge catastrophe? Would it have been just an experiment to see how ransomware attacks work? This could have well been the case, but authorities had a different answer.
There was a belief that the Russian criminal group orchestrated this whole scheme and was called the “Darkside“. They are identified as a ransomware group that targets non-Russian-speaking communities and are growing dangerously in prominence.
3.5 Ransomware Danger
This is not a new phenomenon and could have hazardous effects if not looked into. Instances like the colonial pipeline are only going to keep occurring if all we do is neglect. The danger quotient of ransomware is high since any illegal hacker can get into computers with ease and threaten information in the form of ransom.
It’s almost kidnap of your laptop or computer and you can only get it back at the cost of something.
Viruses are a menace to the computer system as they are to the human body. They steal the metabolism and working of the system and render them powerless. They may be even held for ransom if we do not keep track of the danger that is looming over the security systems.
Therefore, it is in our hands to secure information and keep them safe in a way that is not accessible to avoid the bad side of technology and electronics.