The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Ransomware attacks have spiked this year targeting users at all levels. In fact, the FBI says that over 4k ransomware attacks have occurred since the first of the year – representing a 300% increase since 2015. Not only is this the fastest growing malware threat but it has also become quite lucrative for would-be thieves. Interestingly, according to the WSJ, Bitcoin has now become the preferred payment for cyber-thieves due to its anonymity and ability to send & receive form anywhere in the world.
Ransomware works by infecting your computer with a virus (often through an unsuspecting user clicking on a malicious link) and then directing you to a website where a ransom is demanded to unlock your now-locked computer.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation said ransomware attacks cost victims $209 million in the first three months of the year, including costs, such as lost productivity and staff time to recover files, that is an average of about $333,000 an incident, based on complaints that it has received. The total is up from $24 million for all of 2015, or about $10,000 an infection, the FBI said.”
“Ransomware is deviously simple. Often after tricking the victim into clicking on a malicious link or attachment, the software then encrypts files—often targeting Microsoft Office documents—and displays a message with instructions to recover them..”