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Ransomware Is A Billion Dollar Game Of Cat And Mouse
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Ransomware Is A Billion Dollar Game Of Cat And Mouse

2 Months Ago By Richard Darell

Cyber security is a never-ending game of cat and mouse between criminals and those offering some form of protection, which is why we can never rest on our laurels. Yes, we now have more ways than ever to stay safe online, but that doesn’t mean we’re threat-free. In fact, according to recent statistics, hacking is now a multi-billion industry with new ransomware being released every day.

With more personal, financial and corporate data stored online than ever before, criminals are now making a living from their hacking activities. Because of this, the World Economic Forum suggested in its Global Risks Report in 2016 that the cost of cybercrime is now $445 billion. With a variety of tools at their disposal, hackers can now infiltrate a company server or an individual’s home or mobile device virtually undetected.

Ransomware Is A Growing Threat

In 2016, ransomware was one of the fastest growing threats to businesses. As outlined by Imperva, “it’s getting easier for cybercriminals to execute these shakedowns” because things such as Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) tools and improved encryption methods are becoming more easily available. The end result, according to the cybersecurity provider, is that companies are forced to pay the cyber criminals because the cost of downtime could be even greater than the ransom.

Using a 2016 ransomware attack on the San Francisco transport system, Imperva outlined how the local government was forced to offer free rides because the system was taken offline. With an average daily ridership of more than 700,000 and the cost of a ticket around $2.50, the cost of the downtime actually far outweighed the $73,000 the cyber criminals were demanding.

The Most Destructive Ransomware Threats

With this being the case, it’s little wonder ransomware has become a popular strategy with hackers. Naturally, understanding the threats is part of the battle in the fight back against these criminals. With this in mind, we’ve picked out some of the most destructive ransomware software businesses should be wary of in 2017.

Locky – When this malware started to spread in 2016, it not only caused chaos with desktop and mobile users, it made ransomware the “in” thing. Using a combination of macro malware, ZIP email attachments and exploit kits, Locky was able to lock infected devices and demand money from the user. The devices of those that didn’t pay or find a way to remove the malware would display pornographic images.

Sality – This particular piece of malware has been around for more than a decade and has survived thanks to its ability to evolve. Much like a human virus, Sality can adjust its structure as new barriers are placed between it and its goal. This ability to adapt is because it’s controlled by a large botnet that’s constantly monitoring the online landscape for new opportunities. The end goal of Sality is to infect executable files and download malware onto a user’s device.

Conficker – Perhaps the most destructive piece of ransomware to date is Conficker. By specifically targeting Windows computers, this virus is able to take instructions from the C&C server and download malware onto infected devices. Once it’s managed to penetrate a system, it can then transmit personal data from that device to the hacker. Moreover, it can even disable a user’s security software.

Don’t Ever Stop Playing The Security Game

Ransomware is a growing problem in the cyber security world. Although the three pieces of software listed above are seen as the most destructive at the moment, it’s by no means an exhaustive list. As more criminals become savvy to the amount of money they can make from uses these sorts of exploits, the threats will only increase.

However, as is often the case, vigilance is vital. By understanding the latest threats and then implementing the necessary protection methods, most users should be able to stay safe. But, it’s always important to remember that proactiveness and staying up to date with latest developments is key, because cyber security is a game that never ends.

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IMAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK
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