A new and devastating virus is affecting computer owners and users of all sizes, shapes and descriptions. It is called Ransomware.
This is a type of malware that infects computer systems, restricting the users’ access to the infected systems. It typically attempts to extort money it’s from victims by displaying an on-screen alert.
This alert will usually say that the user’s system has been locked or that the user’s files have been encrypted. Users are told that unless a ransom (fee) is paid, access will not be restored.
The ransom demanded can vary greatly, but is usually from $200–$400.00. Often times it must be paid in virtual currency, such as Bitcoin. This makes the transaction all but impossible to trace.
Ransomware is usually spread by emails that contain malicious attachments or through drive-by downloading. Drive-by downloading happens when a user unknowingly visits an infected website. The malware is then downloaded and installed onto the visitor’s computer, without their knowledge.
Another popular type of ransomware is called Crypto ransomware. This virus encrypts the files on the victim’s computer. It too is spread through email and infected websites. However, Crypto goes a step further, infecting computers through social media, such as web-based instant messaging applications.
If that’s not scary enough, the newest methods of infection are more dangerous. It can now use a web server as an entry point to gain access into an organization’s network.
Why it’s So Effective
Ransomware is effective because the typical computer user is not a technical expert. As such, they can be easily scared into believing that paying money is their only way out.
This fear is created when an intimidating message appears one one’s computer screen. These messages leave the computer user feeling that they have no choice but to pay. Here are some examples of the messages encountered by victims of this virus:
- “Your computer has been infected with a virus. Click here to resolve the issue.”
- “Your computer was used to visit websites with illegal content. To unlock your computer, you must pay a $100 fine.”
- “All files on your computer have been encrypted. You must pay this unlocking fee within 72 hours to regain access to your data.”
How well does this method work? In 2012, one server of 5,700 compromised computers had an estimated 2.9% of users pay the ransom (fee).
The average payment was $200. This resulted in the criminals making $33,600 per day or $394,400 per month. These estimates show just how profitable ransomware can be for cyber-criminals.
If you or your company have questions or need help with ransomware, MrInsurability is here for you. They have new insurance coverage available in the event of a ransomware attack, a data breach or cyber-attack of any kind.