What is Ransomware?

What is Ransomware? Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts data and holds it hostage until a ransom is paid. It was originally thought that ransomware would only affect individuals and small businesses, but in recent years it has become a major problem for large organizations as well. What does this mean? It means that hackers have figured out how to attack the most important technology in the world: the computer. Ransomware is a major threat to business and many small businesses have been forced to shut down because their computers were infected with ransomware. It is estimated that the total amount of ransom money demanded by hackers to unlock encrypted files is in excess of $1 billion annually. And it gets worse. In 2017, a new type of ransomware called Wannacry began to spread. This ransomware used an exploit in Microsoft Windows that affected over 200,000 computers and was responsible for the largest-ever recorded ransom demand. Hackers are getting more creative, so it is important to be aware of the latest threats and take preventative measures. 

How do I get ransomware?

How do I get Ransomware? Ransomware is a type of malicious software that holds data hostage and demands a ransom to release it. Ransomware can be downloaded from the Internet, emailed, or left on a USB flash drive. It can also be embedded in an attachment in an email message. Once ransomware has infected your computer, it will typically hold data hostage and display a warning screen when you log into your account. As a result, you may not be able to access important files or programs and you will be unable to get to your emails. If you don't remove ransomware quickly, your data will likely be lost forever. If you think you are being targeted by ransomware, contact the cybersecurity experts at Cyber Sleuth Security.

How Ransomware Works

Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They use multiple methods to spread across networks, including phishing emails that contain malicious attachments. Once the attachment is opened, the malware takes control of the machine.

Once it's infected, the malware starts looking for data it wants to encrypt. This could include personal information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, photos, videos, documents, etc., or it could be just about anything else.

The most common way the malware does this is by creating encrypted copies of the files it finds. These encrypted files are called ransom notes because they demand money to decrypt them.

If the user doesn't pay up, the malware deletes everything on the system, rendering the device unusable.


Get Started

By submitting this form, you agree to the Cyber Sleuth Security Terms of Use and Cyber Sleuth Security Privacy Policy.

Common Types of Ransomware

Scareware, as it turns out, is not that scary, but it does cause some headaches. Scareware is typically bundled with another product, such as fake antivirus software, and often masquerades as something else entirely. For example, one scam uses a similar name to a popular anti-virus software brand. Another trick involves bundling a free trial version of a legitimate security tool with a premium subscription.

The most common type of scareware is rogue security software, which claims to detect viruses and spyware on your computer. These programs usually ask you to purchase a full version of the same software, and sometimes even offer a discount. However, the real purpose of the software is to generate revenue for the developer.

Screen locker ransomware is designed to prevent people from accessing their data unless they pay a ransom. This type of ransomware locks down screens, prevents access to files, and displays messages demanding payment. Screen lockers differ from encryption ransomware because they don't actually encrypt your files; rather, they just block access to them.

Encrypting ransomware is similar to screen locker ransomware, except it actually encrypts your files. Once encrypted, you won't be able to open them without paying the ransom. Encryption ransomware is becoming increasingly common, especially among criminals targeting small businesses.

Ransomware on Mobile Devices

The term "ransomware" originally referred to software that locks down computers and demands money to unlock it. But over the past few years, we've seen many different types of malware that do much more than just lock down our machines. In fact, there are now several different families of malware that target mobile devices. These include crypto mining malware, which uses your device's processing power to mine cryptocurrencies; adware, which installs ads onto your phone without your consent; spyware, which secretly records everything you say and do; and even ransomware, which threatens to wipe your data unless you pay a certain amount of money.

Who is a Target for Ransomware?

Ransomware is one of the most common cyberattacks today. While it's true that many businesses fall victim to ransomware every day, it's important to know how attackers go about targeting certain industries. Here are three main types of victims:

Government Agencies/Medical Facilities

These organizations typically have fewer people dedicated to cybersecurity and less money to spend on protection. As a result, they're often easy prey for hackers looking to make off with sensitive information.

Law Firms

Law firms are attractive targets for both criminals and hacktivists. Hackers want to use law firm computers to spread malware, steal intellectual property, and disrupt operations. Hacktivists are motivated by political causes and seek to embarrass companies and governments.


Smaller institutions are often targeted by hackers looking to infect university networks with malware. They do this by sending phishing emails to faculty members and students, hoping to trick them into downloading malicious software onto their devices.

Should you Pay the Ransom to Recover your Data?

The FBI says it doesn't recommend paying ransoms because it just encourages criminals to continue targeting businesses. But even though the bureau advises against paying, some experts believe there are circumstances under which paying could make sense.

"We don't advise people to pay," says John Hultquist, director of threat intelligence at FireEye. "But we do think there are cases where paying makes sense."

Hultquist points out that the FBI does not consider ransomware attacks a priority, and therefore doesn't prioritize investigating them. He adds that the agency often lacks the resources to investigate every case.

So what happens when a company gets hit?

"If you're getting attacked, you're probably already losing money," he explains. "You might lose revenue, you might lose customers, you might lose reputation. So why wouldn't you want to recover that?"

He notes that the average ransom demand is about $700-$1,300, depending on the type of attack. And although the FBI recommends not paying, Hultquist believes that in some cases, paying the ransom could help victims recover their files.

"There are lots of ways to recover data," he says. "Some of them are expensive. You can hire someone to try to recover it. Or you can buy software that tries to recover it. There are a lot of options."

Ransom Prices and Payment Methods

The amount of ransom paid for each incident can vary depending on who the attacker is, and more importantly, who the victim is. For example, WannaCry, one of the most infamous ransomware attacks of 2017, demanded $300 per victim, while Locky 2.0 demanded $600. However, some ransomware variants demand much larger sums. In 2016, CryptoLocker demanded up to $1 million in Bitcoin.

Thanks to the perceived anonymity offered in cryptocurrency transactions, ransomware operators commonly specify the amount of ransom payments in bitcoin. This makes it easier for victims to pay without having to convert currency into fiat money, and it allows criminals to profit from the volatility of the digital currency market.

In recent months, several ransomware families have begun offering additional payment methods beyond bitcoins. Some variants now list iTunes and Amazon gift card codes among their payment options. Other variants allow victims to choose whether to use a credit card or PayPal account to make the payment.

Of course, paying the ransom does not necessarily mean that you will receive the decryption keys or unlock tools required to regain access to your data or systems. Many ransomware developers are quick to note that they do not provide those tools because there is no way to verify that the person claiming to have the decryption key actually possesses it.

Tips for Avoiding Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the most common types of malicious software used today. When it infects your system, it encrypts files and demands payment to decrypt them. If you don't pay, the encrypted files could become inaccessible forever.

The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself against this threat. Here are some tips to help keep you safe.

  1. Be Careful About What You Download

If you're downloading something from the Internet, make sure you know exactly where it came from. Don't just blindly trust a link to a file or program you find online. Instead, use reputable sources like antivirus programs, browser extensions, and security apps to check out the source.

  1. Use Strong Passwords

When you log into your email account, bank accounts, social media sites, and other important accounts, always choose strong passwords. This includes choosing unique passwords for each site and changing them periodically. And remember, hackers aren't the only ones who can access your personal information; employees of companies you do business with could too. So make sure you change your password every few months.

  1. Update your Operating System and Software Regularly

Updating software is important because it helps keep your system protected. Make sure you're running the latest version of operating systems, browsers, anti-virus programs, and other security tools.

Steps to Take if your Organization is Already Infected with Ransomware

If your organization has already been affected by ransomware, there are some things you can do to limit the damage. These include:

- Disconnecting infected computers, laptops, or tablets from all network connections, including wired, wireless or mobile phones.

- Turning off Wi-Fi, disabling all core network connections (including routers), and disconnecting from the Internet.

Contact the Ransomware experts at Cyber Sleuth Security for more information.

Are Ransomware Attacks Emerging?

Ransomware is one of the most common forms of malware today. In fact, it’s become such a big problem that even the FBI has warned about it. And while many people are familiar with the term, few understand what exactly ransomware does. It encrypts data on computers and mobile devices, locking out access to files unless a ransom is paid.

The modern ransomware craze began in early 2017, following the WannaCry outbreak. This large-scale and high-profile attack demonstrated that ransomware could be successful and potentially lucrative. Since then, dozens of different ransomware variants have been developed, including Locky, Petya, NotPetya, Cerber, Cryptolocker, Samas, and others. These threats often target specific industries like healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing, and government.

As organizations rapidly pivoted to virtual working environments during the coronavirus pandemic, gaps were created in the cybersecurity protections they had put in place. Cybercriminals quickly took advantage of these weaknesses to deliver ransomware. During the first quarter of 2020 alone, there were over 4,500 reported cases of ransomware infections.

Why Hospitals are a Perfect Target for Ransomware

Ransomware has been a growing problem over the past few years and hospitals are a perfect target for hackers. Hospitals are susceptible to ransomware attacks because they store sensitive patient information on their computers, and these computers are typically used by many hospital employees and patients and are connected to the Internet. Hospitals are not the only businesses susceptible to cyber attacks. Businesses of all sizes and types have been targeted by hackers looking to steal information and money. Hospitals should be prepared to protect themselves from cyber criminals. Our well-trained and equipped cybersecurity team can be your best defense against cyber attacks. Our company was established to provide businesses with proactive cybersecurity services, and we can help your hospital or business with malware removal and ransomware protection. For more information, contact us today.

What is the Future of Ransomware?

With ransomware changing so quickly, it is important to remember that the threats posed by such software are evolving too. Ransomware is no longer limited to encrypting files; rather, it is now targeting infrastructure – both physical and virtual – and demanding money in exchange for unlocking it. Such attacks may target everything from individual PCs to networked ICSs and even critical national infrastructure. Organizations should start preparing for the possibility of more attackers switching to ransomware as a means of attack. While ransomware itself won’t necessarily get worse, the methods employed by those behind it may change. These tactics include doubling down on the demand for payment, creating additional pressure through secondary attacks, and even developing new types of ransomware specifically aimed at certain industries and organizations.

Recent Post

Cyber Sleuth Security Icon

Copyright © Cyber Sleuth Security, LLC. All Rights Reserved