According to the U.S. Department of Justice, ransomware attacks have quadrupled this year from a year ago, averaging 4,000 a day, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Although ransomware dates back to the late 1980s, says the report, attacks spiked this year amidst the rising use of bitcoin and enhanced encryption software.
In a ransomware attack, computer files are encrypted and held hostage by attackers.
According to cyber risk data firm Cyence, typical ransomware payments range from $500 to $1,000, but some hackers have demanded as much as $30,000 per attack.
Elaborating on the method of the attack, the report says that an email with an attachment or a link to a website is often the start of the attack, and after victims open the attachment or click on the malicious link, the attachment or the website quietly and automatically installs the ransomware, which encrypts files (often Microsoft Office documents) and displays a message with instruction to recover them.
The FBI told the WSJ that in the first three months of the year, ransomware attacks cost victims $209 million. That figure, according to the FBI, includes costs, such as lost productivity and staff time to recover files, but which is an average of about $333,000 an incident. It should be noted here that according to the FBI, this total is up from $24 million for all of 2015, or about $10,000 an infection.
Image credit – Public domain image by Satoshi (Source)