It's Sunday morning. You sit down at your desk, ready to put the finishing touches on a big project. You turn the computer on and wait for your desktop to appear. But instead of that familiar cat picture, you see something else entirely. A screen says your files are encrypted, and you can't access them. You have to pay $500 within four days, or your entire hard drive will be deleted.
You are a victim of ransomware.
Ransomware is a new type of computer virus. It used to be that cyber criminals would create viruses to cause trouble. They just wanted to "watch the world burn." But somewhere along the line, these people learned that they could actually profit from their criminal behavior. Here's where ransomware comes in. Ransomware locks part of a computer's functions, and asks the victim for payment to open them again. Some ransomware prevents Windows from starting. Other types encrypt important files or stop certain apps from running. But ransomware will always ask for a ransom—there's always a way to "make it stop." That's how it got its name.
Victims of ransomware face a brutal choice: pay up, or kiss their files goodbye. Research from cybersecurity firms found that only around 5% of people actually consider paying. Yet that 5% still adds up to a lot of money. The FBI estimates that cyber criminals raised around $1 billion from ransomware attacks in 2016. The amount that victims are being asked to pay is also going up over time. Ransomware demanded an average payment of $294 in 2015. By 2016, that number had increased to $679.
You're probably thinking "ransomware sounds awful! How can I avoid being infected?" Luckily, there's a way: stop opening all of those emails from Nigerian princes and long-lost relatives! Most ransomware spreads via links or attachments in emails. Just be careful where you click, and you should be fine.
勒索軟體的受害者面臨一個殘酷的選擇：付錢，或是跟所有的檔案說再見。網路資安公司的研究結果顯示，僅有大約5%的受害者會認真考慮付款。雖然只有5%，但累積起來的贖金仍為數不小。美國聯邦調查局評估，網路罪犯於2016 年犯下的勒索軟體攻擊事件中得手的總贖金將近10 億美金。而受害者被勒索的金額亦隨著時間水漲船高。2015 年，勒索軟體每次要求的贖金平均金額為294 元美金。到了2016 年，竟已增 加至679元美金。