Ransomware is the threat of people's data being stolen by hackers and the only way to get that information back is if users pay a certain amount of money. Many people do not know what Ransomware is or how to avoid it. According to Ian Lamont, from the Orange County Register, “Ransomware is a version of malware that blocks users from accessing proprietary data or even their entire network. Ransomware forces victims to pay the hackers in order to regain access to their data or systems.” Ransomware attacks are hard to avoid. Anybody can be attacked at anytime because of what sites people go on or emails they open. Throughout the majority of 2015, the average number of ransomware infections fluctuated between 23,000 and 35,000 per month, according to Jonathan Crowe, a writer at Barkly. Ransomware can happen to anybody, but the main focus is businesses that have a lot of data online or data that is very important to the success of that business.
Here's a video that can also give you a quick rundown of what exactly ransomware is.
Anybody is vulnerable to the threat of ransomware, but the people that are hit the most are businesses and business owners. According to Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of the cybersecurity defense firm Malwarebytes, “My prediction going forward is that we’re not only going to see ransomware focused on data, we’ll see more ransomware focused on other ways to disrupt a business.” Data is very important to businesses and especially owners because it helps them run their business. With that big of a threat people need to know how to avoid it. According to Herb Weisbaum, a reporter for NBC News, “IBM asked more than a thousand American adults about ransomware. Only one-third had heard of it and 59 percent had not taken any proactive measures in the past three months to protect their devices from being hacked.” People not knowing about Ransomware is very dangerous for them and maybe even their career. Hackers could hack their companies information without them even knowing what Ransomware is. Knowing the different types of Ransomware is important as well.
There are many different types of Ransomware, but the most common is Crypto and Locker Ransomware. Tom Spring, a writer at ThreatPost, stated, “When it comes to the types of ransomware, 80 percent of survey respondents said they were hit by crypto ransomware and 20 percent of respondents say their company experienced locker ransomware, which prevents access to the computer until ransom is paid. Forty-six percent of victims were given fewer than two days to pay a ransom while 16 percent said attackers placed no time limit on paying the ransom.” In some cases people are completely locked out of their computer until they pay the ransom and in other cases they are only blocked out of certain things that the hackers can control. People believe that if they just try to get rid of that malware will solve their problem, but it won’t. According to Herb Weisbaum, a writer at NBC News, “The Encryption is unbreakable and simply removing the malware will not solve the problem. The victim is forced to pay for the unique software key that will unlock everything.” Once somebody is hacked they will either have to pay or else get another computer or move on without their files. Having to pay that money just to get your money back is a pain, but there are other downfalls to it as well.
Having personal files on somebodys computer stolen and being demanded to pay money to get it back is one thing, but having your business information stolen is another. According to Tom Spring, a writer from ThreatPost, “Thirty-three percent of respondents said the top true cost of ransomware is having to invest it new security defenses. Another 32 percent said the loss of revenue due to business downtime and the loss of customers were both the biggest contributors to the economic impact of ransomware.” Having business information stolen and losing all that money because of the loss of customers is horrible. And if a person does choose to pay to get it back, they could still be facing more attacks. Steve Strauss, a writer at Fight Ransomware stated, “Even if you do pay, they can still come after you again, and in fact, you may even become more of a target as they now know that they have a mark on their hands.” Paying them for your information sometimes makes them even more of a threat to that person. And not just for a little bit. That threat could be around for a long time.
Ransomware could be around for a long time. People will probably always have the fear of Ransomware in the back of their head. Herb Weisbaum, a writer at NBC News, stated, “Digital security experts tell NBC News the number of ransomware attacks skyrocketed in 2016 and the sophistication of this malware grew exponentially. And they say it’s going to get worse.” People will keep having to deal the annoying threat of ransomware. Not only is it still going to be around, but there’s going to be higher prices demanded to get your data or even your whole computer system back. According to Tom Spring, a writer at ThreatPost, “Right now ransomware authors are demanding between a 0.5 ($220) and 1 ($420) Bitcoins per infected machine. In the future, the price is expected to rise significantly.” So next time somebody receives a fake email or something random pops up on their screen and asks for money, don’t pay it. They will only be making the problem worse and years from now people will still be having files stolen from their computer and demanded money for it back.