Administrative offices for the City of Newark, NJ this week fell victim to a ransomware infection known as RSA-2048. “The virus compromised our network and disrupted many services that we offer,” Seth Wainer, chief information officer for the city, told TAPInto Newark. “Our police services are unaffected and continue operating normally.” Wainer confirmed that some city computers were hit with the virus. Security experts say RSA-2048 typically infects users through malicious attachments to spam emails. The virus then encrypts many different types of computer files, including images, Microsoft Word documents and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. The cybercriminals behind the attack demanded a ransom payment of 24 bitcoins, about $30,000. So far, the city hasn’t announced plans to pay the ransom.
At current rate, ransomware could double in 2017
Following a busy year for malware creators in 2016, it looks like the number of ransomware families in the wild is going to double in 2017 if no action is taken, according to European cybersecurity firm F-Secure. The company released startling statistics showing that back in 2012, there was only one known ransomware family. That number grew to 35 in 2015, and then to 193 ransomware families in 2016. “If the U.S. pursues all forms of potentially illegal payments, ransomware’s growth could be abated,” Sean Sullivan, F-Secure security advisor, said in a statement.
Ransomware grew three times more expensive in 2016
Ransomware can take a heavy toll on victims’ wallets, and it’s only getting more expensive. In 2016, the average ransom demand more than tripled, according to security firm Symantec. The company says ransom demanded by cybercriminals rose to an average of $1,077 in 2016, up significantly from $294 the year before. But why are cybercriminals getting greedier? In part, it’s because the attackers have seen much success in the past, according to Symantec. And if a victim doesn’t have backup, they are often forced to pay. Learn why you shouldn’t pay the ransom
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