We’ve all heard at one point ransomware being mentioned – computers hijacked by evildoers and then encrypted with a key which was available at a cost to the unaware user.
People have been asking – how does it spread? Can it come through the network? Is it a download or an exe file you have to click to get it on your machine?
What makes ransomware so effective?
One reason—fear. Just like any traditional extortion op, ransomware operations succeed because they capitalize on fear, which ultimately forces victims to do something irrational such as paying cybercriminals. Fear of losing your job because you lost important documents to ransomware can be crippling.
Getting locked out of your system or never being able to open your files again is a scary thought. Possibly being indicted for potentially embarrassing browsing habits (such as watching adult or inappropriate videos) or unwanted public exposure can compel you to pay.
And from what we’ve seen so far, fear-mongering works, as proven by the US$325 million paid by individuals and businesses worldwide to a single ransomware variant called CryptoWall in 2015.