Signature-Based Versus Behavior-Based Ransomware Detection

August 2023

For years now, instances of ransomware have been on the rise. Specifically, ransomware refers to an online attack where a user’s files are encrypted and/or corrupted by hackers. From there, the hackers demand payment of a ransom (often in the form of cryptocurrency) in order to regain access to their files.

Despite the fact that ransomware is a greater threat than ever before, there are also more security tools available to keep you and your data safe. Two of the most common types of ransomware detection include signature-based and behavior-based.

So, how do these two detection methods work, how do they differ, and which method is best for your needs? We have the answers, as well as some additional tips for protecting yourself from ransomware, below.

Signature-Based vs. Behavior-Based: What’s the Difference?

Both signature-based and behavior-based ransomware detection can be extremely effective at pinpointing the source of ransomware attacks and thwarting these threats.

Specifically, signature-based methods work by detecting known codes or other characteristics of a virus or malware file. The information used to detect malware using this method is stored in a database that is frequently updated based on past attacks and threats.

With behavior-based ransomware detection, on the other hand, the software actually tracks and analyzes each line of code and the potential actions that each line can perform. From there, it is possible to detect malicious code that may otherwise be missed in a signature-based detection platform.

Which Ransomware Detection Method is Best?

There are a lot of different opinions regarding which type of ransomware detection is best for any given situation. Some say that signature-based methods aren’t effective enough in stopping new malware threats because this method is more reactive. Meanwhile, behavior-based methods tend to be more proactive because they don’t rely on an existing database of threats – instead, each new file and line of code is carefully reviewed by the software.

In reality, the best method for detecting and avoiding ransomware is likely a combination of both signature-based and behavior-based detection. By using both, you can enjoy the “best of both worlds” and minimize your risk of becoming a ransomware victim.

Protecting Yourself From Ransomware Threats

In addition to having reliable virus protection software in place that utilizes signature-based ransomware detection, behavior-based ransomware detection, or a combination of both – there are some other common-sense steps you can take to protect yourself and your data.

For starters, be careful about the types of files you accept and open, especially from unknown users. Never open a file you don’t recognize in an email attachment unless it has been run through antivirus software. Likewise, consider using a third-party remote data backup to ensure that your most important files are stored safely in more than one location.

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