Ransomware attacks are an increasingly popular type of cybercrime that offers almost guaranteed success for cybercriminals. The number of attacks have grown in recent years, and despite the authorities urging victims of ransomware attacks not to pay the perpetrators, they often end up paying. The most preferred form of payment for cybercriminals is cryptocurrency.
Ransomware is a kind of malware that manages to lock the data on a victim’s computer through encryption, and the cybercriminal responsible for it demands payment in order to decrypt the data and return access to the victim. Ransomware attacks are done primarily for the unjust monetary gain they offer the cybercriminals by ransoming the victims’ data.
Ransomware can be spread through emails, infected software, websites that have been infected or through external storage devices. With advancing security measures that can reverse-engineer the ransomware and reopen access to data, cybercriminals have also stepped up their game. The latest ransomware makes use of better encryption methods that make it virtually impossible to recover data without paying the criminals.
Cryptocurrencies and Cybercrime
Cryptocurrencies have become popular worldwide in recent years, as they allow for the ease of online transactions.
Transactions in cryptocurrencies circumvent centralized authorities like banks and governments and for the most part are difficult to trace (or virtually impossible, in the case of cryptocurrencies like Monero). These qualities are one of the reasons that cryptocurrencies are very popular.
Cryptocurrencies and Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware allows cyber criminals to block access to their victims’ data. This allows them to leverage control and blackmail the victims in order to get the ransom. Cryptocurrencies make it virtually impossible to trace the cybercriminals and reveal their identities. It is a perfect storm and explains why ransomware attacks are seeing such growth.
Payment of ransom in the past often had to be done in cash. While this is no longer the case, the concept, however, is alive, well, and thriving in the form of credit payments, and now with the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies, in Bitcoin and other alt-coins.
Safety Comes First
Individuals can protect themselves from becoming victims of ransomware attacks by following a few simple steps that will minimize the risks:
- Backup all the sensitive work-related data that you require onto hardware storage that is not connected to the internet. Use strong passwords to protect your computers, other devices and online accounts.
- Do not post too many personal details on social media platforms for the public to see.
- Lastly, you should consider not saving compromising and embarrassing photos and videos on online storage.
It is always better to be safe than sorry. Be mindful of your online activity. Try your level best to actively make backups for sensitive information and aim not to produce content that can be compromising for you.