According to the FBI, ransomware is rapidly becoming one of the most feared threats to public and private networks alike, affecting billions of dollars in annual losses. And it’s not just the FBI that thinks this is such a big deal: authorities all over the world are starting to dedicate more time and resources to combat this rapidly spreading cyber-intrusion.
Just last week, the global ransomware attack known as WannaCry infected hundreds of thousands of computers, spread across 143 countries. The attackers demanded payment of a ransom in Bitcoin to unlock the files, which they threatened to destroy if a ransom was not paid. While the WannaCry attack was extremely high-profile, we frequently hear about ransomware, which is the attack of encrypting a computer with viruses. Therefore, the risk of a ransomware attack is an important discussion to have with your organization.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that infects certain types of computer systems and demands a ransom to be paid to the hacker in order to regain access to their data. However, because the hackers are anonymous and don’t give you any indication that they exist, the average user often has no idea that their data has been encrypted.
The term “ransomware” was first used in an issue of the magazine Crypto in 1997, and its usage steadily began to increase throughout the 2000s. However, the outbreak of cryptocurrency in the 2010s and the rise of ransomware in the first half of the 21st century have dramatically increased the number of people infected with it.
Most people know about viruses and malware, but do they know about ransomware? While the concept of ransomware has been around for a long time, the term has only entered the mainstream in the past few years. Ransomware first came to light when hackers began demanding payments from their victims in exchange for the restoration of their computer files. But there is much more to it than that.
What is the risk of Ransomware?
Ransomware has become a constant in our lives, and it’s something we can’t ignore. Most of us have had to deal with the effects of ransomware at some point or another. And it’s not just the regular ransomware that we have to worry about. It’s the ‘ransomware as a service’ models that are becoming more and more prevalent and their smaller cousins, ‘crypto-lockers,’ that we can normally ignore. For example, a popular program called CryptoWall has been around for a number of years, encrypting the files on your desktop and asking the user to pay a fee in order to recover their files.
What should you do to prevent ransomware?
In this decade, ransomware has evolved from a random virus that encrypted files and demanded a ransom payment to a unique form of computer crime that can be targeted and controlled by cybercriminals. Hesitant to use the term “ransomware,” the industry refers to the malicious software that encrypts data as “crypto-ransomware” since it can be used to extort money from victims for access to their information.
So, what can you do? Be aware. Be secure. Back up your data on a frequent basis, and be wary when clicking anything online. The world is changing. Online threats are on the rise. That is why it is important to know how to detect, prevent and recover from a ransomware attack. Unfortunately, many people are still unaware of the severity of the threat and the potential damage that can be done when you are targeted by an infection of ransomware.
A recent surge in attacks against businesses and individuals has many experts warning about the dangers of ransomware. The malicious programs are becoming more and more sophisticated, and some of them have begun to hold the locked files hostage until you pay the ransom. It’s a scary situation that’s being called an “emerging cybercrime epidemic.”
There’s always a risk. When you buy a new phone at the store, you have no idea how it will be used. When you rent a movie at a store, you have no idea if your member’s name will be leaked to the whole Internet. When you download a video from the Internet, you have nothing to protect you from hackers. When you connect to the Internet, you have no idea what will happen, so don’t expect too much from it. Ransomware is a new type of malware that encrypts your data — files such as photos, videos, and other documents, and then uses them to get money from you. It’s often obtained when you click on a malicious link or download an infected file from the Internet.