Similarities and Difference Between Ransomware and DDoS Extortion Attacks

Cybercriminals leverage multiple methods to bring financial gain. Most of the ways are based on infiltrating an organization’s network and gaining unauthenticated access, which will lead to disruption in their operations. This can be achieved by Ransomware or DDoS Extortion attacks

Ransomware and DDoS extortion attacks are both threats businesses should take seriously. Here are some key similarities and differences between these two types of attacks.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks involve encryption of files in a network, making them unusable unless a ransom is paid. Attackers do this once they breach an organization’s network with various methods like phishing or malware campaigns. Data inside a ransomware-infected system is inaccessible, which may or may not contain sensitive information. 

Usually, ransomware is spread through massive email campaigns which contain malicious attachments. Once a user inside an organization opens the attachment, the ransomware infiltrates the network.

It encrypts all the data making them inaccessible unless a financial demand is paid through the crypto wallet. Attackers use these crypto wallets to hide their identities from being exposed.

Ransomware attacks are becoming more common with more advancements in technologies every day. Cybercriminals discover various new methods for gaining unauthenticated access to an organization’s network.

DDoS Extortion Attacks

In a DDoS Extortion attack, threat actors usually demonstrate a DDoS attack to the organization, resulting in a significant loss in their data and reputation. This is followed by an email or note from the attackers claiming that more threats may occur in the future if their demands (often financial) are not met. 

Some Extortion attacks may not start with a demonstration of the attack. Sometimes they start with a note saying that they have the capacity for a massive DDoS campaign that can disrupt their business for a long period of time or may even destroy their systems.

Once the organization declines, attackers start attacking with loads of requests and continue until their demands are met. In certain cases, the demands may go high every day the organization doesn’t pay.

False claims are common in these scenarios. Attackers may claim that they are capable of a massive DDoS campaign which may not be true. Hence paying a demand is not advisable.

Though both Ransomware and DDoS Extortion attacks are similar to a certain extent, they have their differences.



Both attacks are ultimately motivated by money. Cybercriminals are mostly motivated by financial gain. In both attacks, the organizations agree to their demands since they have no other way to find a solution any time soon.

Unprepared Targets

Targets that never expect a cyber-attack are often targeted since the element of surprise is largely utilized by threat actors. Organizations with no preparation fall for the trap and agree to their demands swiftly. For an unprepared target, preventing both attacks is less likely.

Impact of Availability

In both attacks, the availability of service was entirely affected. As the attacks focus on blocking the availability of a major resource, it disrupts the operation and reputation, which brings a huge loss for the organization.


If an organization pays the attackers in both attacks, there is no assurance that the attack will stop. Also, there is a possibility that the attackers might return again or ask for more ransom. Hence paying the attackers is not recommended.



In a ransomware attack, attacks lock the files inside a system with encryption keys that the attacker can only provide where a ransom payment is demanded.

On the other hand, in a DDoS extortion attack, only a few services are flooded with huge requests making only those services unavailable. While ransomware attacks imply multiple files, a DDoS extortion attack is implied on only one or a few services.


A ransomware attack has a huge impact on the organization since the files can never be recovered without the original encryption key. This makes the impact permanent unless the decryption can be done, taking a lot of time and effort.

In a DDoS extortion attack, the impact is relatively smaller than ransomware attacks because a DDoS attack cannot last forever. Attackers will never rely on using many resources for a long period. Also, if a DDoS attack lasts for a long period, the attack can be mitigated and prevented soon with DDoS mitigation solutions.

Success Rate

A Ransomware attack has a higher success rate than a DDoS Extortion attack. Various security mechanisms have been implemented to prevent a DDoS attack. Mitigation of a DDoS attack is easier with present technologies. A ransomware attack is hard to mitigate and decrypt. Hence, ransomware attacks are used highly by cybercriminals.


Ransomware and DDoS extortion attacks are on the rise, with hackers increasingly targeting businesses and other organizations to extort money. However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent these types of attacks from happening in the first place.

For ransomware attacks, one of the most important things is to have a good backup system in place. This means having regular backups of your data that can be restored if your computer is infected with ransomware. Additionally, it’s important to keep your software up to date, as many ransomware infections take advantage of outdated software vulnerabilities.

For DDoS extortion attacks, one of the best defenses is to use a DDoS mitigation service. These services work by buffering traffic coming into your website or server so that if a DDoS attack does occur, the impact on your business will be minimized. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that your organization’s network is well-protected against brute force attacks, as these are often used in conjunction with DDoS attacks.

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