Ransomware reels in millions


Nobody likes to talk about ransomware, but it's a growing problem for organizations in North America and Western Europe, according to Symantec. While it was once viewed as a niche problem, ransomware netted no less than $5 million over the last year, reports Robert Lemos at eWeek.

In just one month, nearly 70,000 computers were infiltrated by ransomware, Symantec said in a recent report. The malware renders the machines unusable until the victims pay for a code to unlock them. Nearly 3 percent of the 70,000 users affected paid up, netting the attackers $400,000 in that month alone.

Typically, ransomware makes its way onto a computer when a user is redirected to a website that tries to install the program--known as a drive-by download. In the past, the program would disable the computer by encrypting the hard drive or critical files, but the latest exploits sometimes block components from operating after getting system level access. In a particularly insidious move, the malware displays an alert that looks like it comes from local law enforcement and warns that the user will be arrested if the fine isn't paid.

A number of businesses in Australia are known to have paid the ransom, but security experts recommend against paying because there is no guarantee decryption keys will actually be provided.

For more:
- see Robert Lemos' article at eWeek

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