Definition of the Day: Ransomware and Cryptolocker

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Imagine opening up an email attachment or an online utility bill. All of a sudden, a notice appears informing you that you need to pay a ransom in order to unlock your computer files. Alarmed, you try to click on all of the files on your computer – but you just can’t open them.

What do you do?

Ransomware is one of the hottest types of malware (malicious software) on the market. It is distributed through phishing emails, watering hole attacks, malvertising networks, and social engineering schemes. The principle of ransomware is very simple and the level of sophistication grows day by day. It is so bad that Norton Symantec classifies ransomware as ‘the most dangerous cyber threat’. By simply encrypting files or folders, not allowing system access to the hard drive, or manipulating the master boot record – it makes it incredibly hard for victims to find a cure.

Cyber criminals count on individuals and businesses to be so frantic about regaining access to their files that they would be willing to pay up for the encryption key that is needed to unlock their data. The ransom is about USD$300 – 500 for individuals, however when it specifically targets high net worth individuals and companies the ransom price is far steeper. Some particularly nasty variants of ransomware resort to an extreme level of extortion where they will post sensitive documents on public sharing image and document sharing websites unless their demands are met.

ransomware victim

Some of the most famous types of ransomware are CryptoLocker, Cryptowall, and TorrentLocker. In Australia, ransomware uses infected emails which pretends to be from trusted government departments, banks, and other institutions. An example is where Australia Post emails a recipient stating that there is a failed parcel delivery. Unfortunately, ransomware evades antivirus and email scanners which is why there are so many victims who believe they are protected but actually are not. Worse yet, any enterprising criminal can get their hands on any form of ransomware as commercial malware kits are made available for distribution on Nuclear, Angler, and the dark web as a turnkey solution.

Fortunately, by using proven internet security software, you can eliminate the risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack. However they are expensive and targeted for corporations to use.

For an affordable fee, BankVault can help homes and businesses gain peace of mind to prevent ransomware attacks from happening to them as long as they are using webmail services. If you are accessing your email through the browser, BankVault security software can help prevent any kinds of malware attacks such as ransomware, cryptolocker, or other viruses from compromising your computer.