Ransomware: It's As Easy As 1, 2, 3

Jordan Kadlec

 In as little as three steps, cybercriminals can turn a 1,500% profit per month by infecting victims with ransomware. By spending about $5,900, criminals would get the ransomware malicious code, an online kit that acted as an administration system for an attack campaign and a ready source of victims from a compromised site. The web crime industry has grown so much since the introduction of ransomware in 2013 that the malware, exploit kit, and a pool of victims is readily available for criminals to purchase online. With a $5,900 investment, criminals can make up to $90,000 a month with minimal work.

"The money is there and the economy is there," said Karl Sigler, a threat intelligence specialist at Trustwave. "If you lack the morals and ethics it can be easy to get into."

Security analysts are also crediting the virtual currency bitcoin as the key to the growth of ransomware. Bitcoin is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically. Transactions are made with no middle men (banks), have no transaction fees, and there is no need to give your real name. More merchants are beginning to accept them. You can buy webhosting services, malware, and even a pizza or manicure.

"That's what really enabled the ransomware problem to explode," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer a F-Secure. "Once the criminals were able to collect their ransom without getting caught, nothing was stopping them."

ransomware key

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that is spread through email, infected popup advertisements or by visiting an infected website. When infected, hackers hold your computer and data hostage until you agree to pay a ransom, hence "ransomware." There are several types of ransomware however, all of them will prevent you from using your computer normally and will ask for a payment in order to recover your data. Some forms will claim you have done something illegal on your computer and that you're being fined by a police force or government agency. Others will give you a timeline, saying that you have three hours to pay the ransom or your files will be destroyed for good.

How to Protect Yourself From Ransomware:

For the everyday user, we recommend that you use a reputable antivirus software and firewall, back up your files often, and always use extreme caution. Don't click on links inside emails and avoid suspicious websites.

As for businesses, it's not that simple. Oftentimes, your employees are the weakness link in the security chain. Fortunately, WatchPoint is all about protecting your business from the most common and prevalent cyber attacks. We believe in securing your valuable data and programs so that you can focus on the things that matter to your company - like making business decisions.


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