Ransomware

This article was originally hosted on one of my other sites(efocus.tech) which I had to put down for reasons.

What is it?

Ransomware is a type of software that hackers use that blocks access to a system until a sum of money is paid or set of demands is met, think of it as your high school bully, “I have your stuff, now give me your lunch money”.

What happens is once the software finds its way into your computer it either locks you out(best case scenario), or it encrypts your files making it impossible or at very very difficult to get them back again OR it just lazily deletes them but claims to have an encrypted copy safely stored elsewhere(worst case scenario).

Michael | MMusangeya

Ah, the good old days when viruses would just steal your stuff._There are many different types of these programs and the number just keeps increasing. It seems you can’t even throw a stick on the internet without tripping over one(too lame? Sorry).

The problem with Ransomware

The reason behind this explosive growth is simple. It works. When faced with either losing their files or paying a ransom to get them back, people often choose to pay the ransom. Apparently, cats photos are worth their weight in gold. And by the way, it’s not just individuals getting caught, companies and even government agencies are getting caught as well. It is such a problem that last year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), said

the IC3 received 992 CryptoWall-related complaints, with victims reporting losses totalling over $18 million.

FBI – IC3

Of course, this isn’t the exact amount of money hackers ran away with, but an estimate based on the actual ransoms paid, and

“additional costs associated with network mitigation, network countermeasures, loss of productivity, legal fees, IT services, and/or the purchase of credit monitoring services for employees or customers. “

You’d think all this was bad enough, and you’d be wrong.  

It turns out that because extortion is such a big business, hackers are now looking for ways to stand out.

RAA

Take RAA for example, a strain of ransomware which is written in Javascript or was it Microsoft’s JScript? The Jury is still out on that. RAA, disguises itself as a document attached to an email and starts encrypting files the moment it is opened. It’s a clever approach that virtually guarantees that it will be run by lots of unsuspecting victims. I refer you back to the cat people.

RAA then gives you a ransom note written in Russian, instructing you to pay 0.39 BTC or USD $250 to get your stuff back.

Jigsaw

If you thought RAA was bad then you are in for a treat because Jigsaw likes to play games with its victims.

Michael | MMusangeya Not this Jigsaw but I see what you did there.

It started off pretty innocent, and by innocent, I mean less horrifying. Jigsaw would threaten to delete “only a few” files today, a “few hundred” tomorrow and a “few thousand” the day after unless you coughed up the dough.

But recently Jigsaw upped the ante, by collecting your login details, contacts, emails, Skype history and God knows what else and

wait for it,

Threatening to send all of that data to all of your contacts.Think about it, it will send ALL of your personal, private, dirty little secrets to EVERYONE you know.

Wow.


Image Credits: Jigsaw by Lions Gate Entertainment. used under .

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About Michael

Michael 'phoexer' Musangeya is a Python Software Engineer who has a creepy fascination with photography, video games, and books.

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