Criminals are raising the bar in the fight for your money. It’s natural to expect that competition would follow success—and ransomware is succeeding. Your data is the target and your pocketbook is the end goal. As the landscape becomes more saturated, criminals are seeking ways to get a better return on their infections by making it easier to pay up.
One way extortionists are making it easier to pay is by using alternate currencies. The process for purchasing bitcoins, the mainstream ransom currency, can be difficult for those who have never purchased them before. Victims cannot just go to their bank and exchange dollars for bitcoins. That’s why some ransomware such as FLocker and TrueCrypter allow for payment with iTunes or Amazon gift cards.
Other ransomware distributors provide very clear instructions and online support. Today’s ransomware is developed in multiple languages by professional translators so that the instructions for paying the ransom are easy to understand. Some even come with a guide that explains how to obtain the desired currency. These cypercrooks utilize call center technology and live chat to walk victims through the process of purchasing bitcoins, paying the ransom, and decrypting their files.
Ransomware authors utilize graphic design professionals to create ransomware that has the feel of a professional application. Sophisticated visuals and easily readable text can make paying a ransom feel more like renewing software. Each new piece of malicious software is crafted in this way to make it more likely for you to pay rather than protect.
In some cases, organizations and individuals do choose to pay up. A one-time cost may seem the simpler route, but now you’ve opened the door to more attacks; you’re considered a paying customer. The best way to avoid being re-targeted is not to have to pay ransomware distributors in the first place.
No one ever put out a fire by feeding it. Rather, we must starve the flames to see them extinguished. Equip your company with the processes, people and technology to fight the fire. Protect yourself with a solid backup plan that can help you avoid paying cybercrooks. And you can help make ransomware a thing of the past.
About Eric Vanderburg
Eric Vanderburg is an information security executive, thought leader and author known for his insight on cybersecurity, privacy, data protection and storage. Some have called him the “Sheriff of the Internet” since he and his cybersecurity team at JurInnov protect companies from cyber threats, investigate data breaches, and provide guidance on safe computing.
Eric is passionate about sharing knowledge of cybersecurity and technology news, insights and best practices. He regularly presents on security topics and maintains a security blog. You can find him throughout the day posting valuable content on his social media channels.