Ransomware is a type of malware that locks users out of their computers and requires a fee to return access to the computer. More sophisticated forms encrypt files on the hard drive making it very difficult to decrypt without paying the fee. Once the fee is paid, the malware isn’t necessarily gone; it could be in the background collecting credit card and personal information.
Ransomware enters the computer as a Trojan – usually a downloaded file. The program runs a scareware program, which displays a fake warning from the government claiming the system is being used for illegal activity.
Untraceable payment is the goal. With the rise of Bitcoin, a digital asset and payment system, ransomware has increased. Bitcoin is used for many illegal transactions over the Internet, and it will continue to grow with ransomware. According to a KnowBe4 study conducted in June 2014, ransomware is expected to increase by 88%.
While the target of these attacks is usually computers and laptops, ransomware has appeared on smartphones as well. It is expected that the amount of smartphone and tablet attacks will increase.
According to the same KnowBe4 study conducted in June 2014, only 16% of admins feel that their current solutions are very effective in combating ransomware. There is a two-step approach to protecting users and businesses from ransomware. The first being backups. Frequent backups and correct monitoring can protect a business from losing all of their data. The second step is proper training. Proper training of end users is critical to protecting data.