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What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware refers to a form of malicious software(malware) that encrypts a victim’s files and threatens to make them public or block access to them together until a ransom fee is remitted to the attacker.

It is a practice that is increasingly gaining ground, especially in Europe and North America. Businesses and criminals from all sectors in these regions bear the brunt of these criminal activities.   

For access to be restored, payment instructions with a strict deadline are given to decrypt the files. Charged fees range between a few hundred and thousands of dollars, payable in Bitcoin.

Government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and movements like the ‘No More Ransom Project’ strongly discourage the payment of ransom from breaking the chain as it has been found that the blackmail never stops, and those who pay are more likely to suffer follow-up attacks.

Deeper Definition

They began in 1989 with the ‘AIDS virus’ used to extort funds from recipients of the malware. Through 1996, ransomware was referred to as ‘cryptoviral extortion,’ and now, where they have increased in reach and popularity with the growth of cryptocurrencies and more innovative approaches are being engaged, ransomware has come a long way.

They are of two(2) kinds: encryptors and screen lockers, with the former making data inaccessible without decryption and the latter making the system, have an impenetrable lock screen.

Victims are then directed to the cybercriminals’ choice digital currency platform to pay the ransom fee.

However, payment does not validate the order as the feedback has revealed varying levels of compliance to the decryption agreement after the ransom is delivered.

Typically, ransomware bugs begin with a seemingly harmless mail with unaware users opening a file or accessing a website. The agent then begins to encrypt key files on the computer. A message pops up on the victim’s screen detailing what has occurred and how to get the payment across.

Any device with access to the internet is at risk of becoming the next victim, meaning devices and networks are high-risk platforms.

Productivity and data are highly affected by these, and affected businesses might suffer significant brand damage.

Ransomeware Example

The availability of untraceable currencies that aid anonymity has made ransomware increasingly prevalent. They include:

  • CryptoLocker
  • TeslaCrypt
  • SimpleLocker
  • WannaCry
  • Locky 

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