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Ransomware Turns to Big Targets—With Even Bigger Fallout

April 6, 2017

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An Austrian hotel lost control of its door locks, keeping new guests stranded in the lobby. A police department in Cockrell Hill, Texas abandoned years of video evidence and digital documentation. In Washington, DC, the police couldn’t access its CCTV footage storage system days before Donald Trump’s inauguration. All of this news came out in the last week, stemming from a rapid escalation of how ransomware is deployed. And it’s only going to get worse.

Ransomware has existed in various forms for over a decade. In a classic ransomware scenario, malware storms your computer, encrypts your data, and won’t give you the decryption key unless you pay a fee, usually in Bitcoin. Variations involve holding specific equipment, like your keyboard, hostage until you pay the ransom.

But over the last 18 months, ransomware attacks have increasingly targeted large organizations and systems rather than individuals. One big payout from a group that can afford it beats stringing together lots of small payments from individuals. At this point, ransomware attacks are a $1 billion-per-year business. And, more importantly, the trend is creating collateral damage like never before.

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From → Cyber / Computer

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