According to the European head of technology for Intel, Raj Samani, Ransomware is “rising at an alarming rate and show no signs of stopping…”

Ransomware is malicious malware installed secretly on victim’s machines that encrypts all or part of the data on a person’s machine and that can then only be unlocked by entering the decryption key, or by the hacker themselves.

ransomware

But of course it’s not like the software criminals are doing it for a laugh or as part of some sort of merry jest.

Typically, for an end user to be given access to the decryption key, they must first pay the ransom, normally in the form of the online crypto currency Bitcoin, which by its nature is almost impossible to trace.

Users who refuse to pay, or don’t do so before a given deadline face losing the data stored on their computers forever. The cost or ransom demand for unlocking the data can vary enormously, with individuals being forced to pay a few hundred dollars, with businesses being asked to part with thousands of dollars.

The surge in the use of ransomware is partly down to the ease of use with which online criminals can get their hands on ransomware, and the increase of DIY kits that hackers can use to trap their victims.

Mr Samani, talking to the BBC, blamed the rise on the appearance of freely available source code for ransomware and the debut of online services that let amateurs cash in for a relatively small one-time investment.

Recently released research has pointed to a 3,500% increase in the criminal use of net infrastructure that helps run ransomware campaigns in the last year alone

Experts who study ransomware have noted that there are now more than 120 separate families of ransomware that are currently in use.

But why is it so effective?

Because victims don’t have much of a choice but to pay up. For the criminals who use it, it’s a win/win situation. Even if someone doesn’t pay and decides that they can afford to lose all their data such as family photos, essays, and whatever else they have on their machines, the criminal will just move on to the next victim.

But for some people, they feel they have no option, and in terms of forcing victims to comply, time limits are set for them to make up their mind or face the real promise that they will lose their private or corporate information forever.

But crucially, experts have also stated that the increased use of ransomware has proved to be a problem for antivirus programs highlighting their weakness as an effective deterrent when it comes to dealing with such attacks. That being said, it would be a mistake not to have up-to-date antivirus on your device! You can download Bullguard Antivirus from FileHippo now and make sure you are protected.