Definition: A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

Although ransomware is usually aimed at individuals, security experts have warned that ransomware is the fastest growing form of computer virus and it’s only a matter of time before businesses are targeted as well.

How does it work?

Like other computer viruses, it usually finds its way onto a device by exploiting a security hole in vulnerable software or by tricking somebody into installing it.

The virus then sets to work encrypting the user’s files. Once the computer is effectively locked down, it demands a fee – often in bitcoins because it is less easy to trace – for the return of the files.

The fee is generally one or two bitcoins – the equivalent of about $500 (£330).

Is there anyway to get round it?
Sometimes it is just a threat, but mostly the virus really does encrypt files. The only way to retrieve your files without paying the ransom is to go to a backed-up version.

Who is behind it ?

It tends to be organised crime. They do make millions out of it. It’s opportunistic.

Recent research by Palo Alto Networks and industry partners suggested one family of ransomware known as Crypto Wall had generated about $325m (£215m) for the gang behind it.

In the volume of cybercrime space, ransomware is one of the most prolific problems we face. Credit card theft is getting to the point where the value of each card is very low. As a result, ransomware has stepped into that gap and giving a higher value return for each victim.
To discuss cyber security for your business please speak with Jon Davies on 01625 547754 or email