Ransomware is the latest threat to the privacy and security of your computer. Spread through phishing scams, email attachments and malvertising, its purpose is to encrypt the files on your device and then hold them to ransom. You are forced to pay a fee to get back control of your device.
With more than 4,000 ransomware attacks per day, a 300 percent increase from 2015 it is clearly a growing trend and very profitable for hackers. Businesses in particular are faced with massive fines if there is a data breach, so the stakes are even higher. As we have already witnessed companies have little choice but to pay the hackers to get their data back. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center announced it paid $17,000 to hackers in February after it was hit with a ransomware attack.
Ransomware is computer malware that installs covertly on a victim’s computer, executes a cryptovirology attack that adversely affects it, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt it or not publish it. Simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, and display a message requesting payment to unlock it. More advanced malware encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. The ransomware may also encrypt the computer’s Master File Table (MFT) or the entire hard drive. Thus, ransomware is a denial-of-access attack that prevents computer users from accessing file since it is intractable to decrypt the files without the decryption key. Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan that has a payload disguised as a legitimate file.
While initially popular in Russia, the use of ransomware scams has grown internationally; in June 2013, security software vendor McAfee released data showing that it had collected over 250,000 unique samples of ransomware in the first quarter of 2013, more than double the number it had obtained in the first quarter of 2012. Wide-ranging attacks involving encryption-based ransomware began to increase through Trojans such as CryptoLocker, which had procured an estimated US$3 million before it was taken down by authorities,and CryptoWall, which was estimated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to have accrued over $18m by June 2015.