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Ransomware Isn't Going Away

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Ransomeware made a splash last year, and while we haven't heard as much about it lately, it hasn't gone anywhere.  In fact, it's increased 165% in 2015.

If you need a refresher, ransomware is a particularly insidious kind of malware that takes over a computer and locks it up.  Your screen will usually display a message explaining that you can no longer access your programs or files, and that to regain everything you'll need to pay a certain amount, which often increases after a specified amount of time.  Hackers keep your files hostage for anywhere from $200 to $5000.

It's easy to see why this is such a lucrative business for hackers.  People are generally pretty bad at backing up their files and it's pretty easy money.  On top of that, as cybersecurity increases and it becomes more difficult for hackers to trade in stolen credit cards and other information, more and more of them are looking for a way to get a big payout.

And that's why ransomware has spiked 165% in the first quarter of 2015.

Last year's big name in ransomware was CryptoLocker.  The new version is CTB-Locker.  It's harder to detect and can come in legitimate-looking spam, IRC and peer-to-peer networks.  It's usually hidden in a zip files packed in another zip file.  The ransomware is available on the black market, so different versions of it are constantly popping up.

Keeping clear of ransomware shouldn't be too difficult if you follow basic rules of cybersecurity.

  • Keep your operating system and software up to date.
  • Don't use operating systems that are no longer supported, like Windows XP.
  • Don't open attachments in emails unless you know for sure that it's coming from a legitimate source, and even then if it seems a little off or our of the blue, it might be best to contact the sender and make sure they actually send you an attachment.