Springfield, Illinois, a couple glares at
their computer screen.
knowing the baby pictures of their
eldest son are now lost forever.
They couldn’t afford to pay the seven
hundred dollar ransom.
In Dickson County, the Sheriff’s Office pays
622 dollars in Bitcoins.
With lives in the balance, there was no
option but to pay.
In Bern, Switzerland, Maurice sits at a coffee shop
eyes glued to her laptop screen.
An image of a bright red padlock stares back at her as
she reads the assailants demands.
How did things get so bad?
Let’s take a step back and see how it all started.
Malware has been around since the dawn
of the Internet, and in short,
it’s software created for malicious purposes.
Malware spreads to computers via spam
emails, misleading links, fake software updates,
and through exploiting vulnerabilities
in web browsers and popular software.
A decade ago, a new and
particularly sinister type of malware emerged.
In 2005, Russian criminals
created the first ransomware detected as
It was a crude parasite which zipped and
password-protected a user’s personal documents.
The user would then find the
ransom note on their desktop.
Fast forward to 2012. Ransomware exploded
across Europe and North America
posing as law enforcement alerts accusing
victims of piracy, terrorism,
and even child pornography.
The victims were then urged to pay a
or face criminal charges.
In 2013, ransomware makers were already
extracting more than 3 million dollars
per year from their victims.
Then, CryptoLocker was released, and the stakes
quadrupled almost overnight.
CryptoLocker represented a totally new
family of malware, which encrypts users
photos, documents, and other personal
files with a uniquely customized secret key.
These files could only be restored by
paying a ransom to obtain the secret key.
On January 10, 2015, the FBI made
official statement that ransomware was
on the rise
emphasizing that a new ransomware
variant, CryptoWall, was encrypting user’s
files and charging anywhere from 200 to
five thousand dollars in bitcoins to
The FBI did not provide any viable
solutions for decryption. In 2016,
more than 15 million dollars has already
been extorted from users.
A vicious parasitic cycle has begun.
Most users opt to pay.
Every time a victim pays the ransom, the
malware creator receives the funds.
Naturally, some of this money is
reinvested into the development cycle,
and crypto ransomware gets progressively
smarter, more effective, and harder to defeat,
and thus, the cycle continues.
So what should you do? Take the initiative and
backup your data to protect yourself.
While modern antivirus programs
can protect you against the
majority of threats, many cutting-edge
malware variants are able to easily slip
through the cracks in antivirus security
There has never been an AV program that
can block every threat all the time.
The only thing that can
guarantee your security and peace of mind
is a solid backup plan.
Protect yourself, and most importantly,
protect your data.
This will rob the malware makers of
their income, and a erode the ransomware
model from its core. Get serious about
your online security. Protect yourself
with advanced anti-malware software with
Create a backup plan to make sure that
your important data is safe.
Store a backup of your most critical
data offline or with
a secured cloud backup service.
Make sure your operating system and
applications are up to date.
Use caution when opening email
attachments, and don’t click unsolicited
Get secure, be safe, stay up to date.