There are a few inherent dangers to being online. One of the trends that have been gaining traction is the ransomware attack. It is a digital attack where the attacker makes demands of the victim, often in exchange for monetary compensation.

If you have never seen an attack in action, you may not know what to look for. Here are some of the early warning signs that you may be dealing with ransomware on your machine.

1. Lateral Phishing

There is something called lateral phishing where the email will come from inside of your district’s domain. Basically, it means that the hacker has managed to launch a successful account takeover and they are looking to gain access to not only data but more accounts as well.

A hacker might send an email from a teacher account to one of the payroll specialists in the district. They would ask the recipient to click a link or maybe download a file. Should they succeed, then they would have more access to sensitive information that they shouldn’t have access to.

2. Spam and Phishing Emails

Though they can be somewhat common, there should always be cautious when it comes to phishing and spam. The difficult thing is that there are always going to be people that can be fooled into clicking on things that they shouldn’t.

Any email that looks as if it could have come from a financial institution should be thoroughly examined. There are a few telltale signs that the email is spam or a phishing attempt. When in doubt, ask one of the security technicians in your company whether the email is legitimate or not.

3. Suspicious Logins

Perhaps you have gotten alerts for failed logins lately. This can happen from time to time as some people have difficulty remembering a variety of passwords that need to be managed in day-to-day life.

But if you notice a spike of failed logins within your organization, then it is cause for concern. It means that someone is attempting to break into the system, for the purposes of a ransomware attack or some other nefarious means. Those suspicious logins will also typically come from a weird location and/or IP address as well.

4. The Presence of Hacker Tools

There are times when someone may be trying to orchestrate an attack and you don’t notice it. From time to time, hackers will have certain tools such as Microsoft Process Explorer or MimiKatz installed on your machine when they are looking to steal credentials.

There are also a variety of applications such as PC Hunter, Process Hacker, IOBit Uninstaller, and GMER that can disable security features on your machine. If you notice any sign of these tools, make sure to perform an investigation to see whether or not there are others installed on your machine and remove them if possible.

5. Disable Active Directory

Yet another area where hackers may turn their focus is Active Directory. With a little bit of careful pre-planning, attacks can be less automated using sophisticated campaigns. These can be a bit tougher to track as well but can be just as effective for the hacker.

There have been instances where hackers would use the Remote Desktop Protocol in order to remotely break into servers. They would then add in their ransomware tool, which then corrupts the AD logon script. When that happens, anyone who logs onto the server becomes automatically infected, adding more and more compromised areas for the hacker to attack.

6. Corrupting Backups

Most of the time, when a hacker is working to break into your system, they are looking to encrypt live data so that they can hold it hostage for monetary gain. One of the ways that they do this is by corrupting backups or by disabling certain pieces of security software.

Should you notice that your backups are corrupted with some regularity, be alert. Corrupted backups make it nearly impossible to get a data restoration and the disabling of those security features give hackers the access that they need to get into your system and play havoc.

7. Encrypted Devices

There are some cyber criminals out there that attempt to work slowly through a system. That is because working slowly means making less apparent signs of an attack. Being hidden is one of the biggest weapons at the disposal of any hacker out there.

Before an attack will commence, you may notice that there are a few encrypted devices showing up on your network. These devices are the way in which they test to see if their plan is working properly. Should you notice a few encrypted devices suddenly appearing on your network, then it should be an indication that an attack is on the horizon.

8. Test Attack Signs

Before you see the attack, some hackers out there will investigate for different vulnerabilities. They will then test out their findings by launching small-scale attacks on a few of the machines on your network to see how they respond.

The approach is meant to give them an idea of where your network is most vulnerable. They can then modify their attack before they go full-blown. Small-scale attacks can sometimes look unrelated or even a one-off, but they are almost certainly part of a much bigger plan that could come weeks or even months down the line.

9. Network Scanners

There are a few things such as Advanced Port Scanner or AngryIP that can be used for completely legitimate reasons. Just make sure that you know the people who are running those kinds of network scanners because they are the favorites of scammers as well.

Hackers that are able to gain access to a single machine will more often than not determine what they are able to access through the use of a network scanner. If there is a network scanner that you can’t quite account for, it may be a hacker that is preparing to launch an attack on your machine.