10 Ways Ransomware Infects Devices


Ransomware is a type of cyberhacking attack that locks up your computer, then demands money in exchange for releasing your files. If you’re going to defend against ransomware and avoid costly ransomware removal, you need to know how ransomware infects devices in the first place.

Human Attack Vectors

These are all things that require a human to fall for a scam before the ransomware takes hold.

1. Phishing

Most human attacks are a play on phishing. Phishing is a scam that utilizes a fake email to trik someone into opening a link or attachment that will download the malware onto the computer.

2. SMSishing

SMSishing is the same ploy, but sent through SMS. It’s common to see SMSishing through authentication messages that claim you need to click a link to verify your information or log into an account.

3. Vishing

Vishing utilizes voicemail. Typically, the recipient of the voicemail is told to call a number that seems legitimate, but is actually run by a cybercriminal, who will actually direct you to download the malware.

4. Social Media 

If you ever get a social media message that looks too good to be true, it typically is. If you don’t have an existing relationship with someone or they’ve sent you a message that looks suspicious, don’t click on any links.

5. Instant Messaging 

Instant messaging clients allow criminals to distribute malware to people’s contact lists. Always be on the lookout for messages that seem suspicious, even from known contacts.

Machine Attack Vectors

These are all things that don’t require a human’s input at all, but can still lock up your computer.

6. Drive-By Attacks

A drive-by attack simply requires you to open a webpage with malicious code built in. The code will automatically run and install on your system.

7. System Vulnerabilities

By exploiting specific systems’ vulnerabilities, a criminal can break into systems and install ransomware. This is most common in systems that aren’t fully up to date.

8. Malvertising

Essentially, this is the same as a drive-by, but uses malicious ads. Ads can run certain types of script that can surreptitiously install malware on your device if they’re malicious.

9. Network Propagation

Once a piece of ransomware is on a device, it attempts to spread itself as far as possible. If you have multiple computers connected to a shared system, they might spread the malware to each other.

10. Shared Services 

Though file sharing and file syncing services can be an important part of a backup system, they can back up malicious files just as easily as non-malicious files. Consider your automatic syncing settings to make sure you don’t get locked out of your backup as well.


All 10 of these methods of ransomware infection can be problematic for any company. Remember, just because you have smart employees, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to ransomware infection. Your best bet will always be to take active steps against ransomware infection before it begins to keep your systems generally safe and healthy.


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