Mushrooming growth of ransomware extorts $5 million a year | Ars Technica

Malware that disables computers and demands that hefty cash payments be paid to purported law-enforcement agencies before the machines are restored is extorting as much as $5 million from end-user victims, researchers said.

The estimate, contained in a report published on Thursday by researchers from antivirus provider Symantec, is being fueled by the mushrooming growth of so-called ransomware. Once infected, computers become unusable and often display logos of local law-enforcement agencies, along with warnings that the user has violated statutes involving child pornography or other serious offenses. The warnings then offer to unlock the computers if users pay a fine as high as $200 within 72 hours.

via Mushrooming growth of ransomware extorts $5 million a year | Ars Technica.

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2 thoughts on “Mushrooming growth of ransomware extorts $5 million a year | Ars Technica

  1. When i first read this I thought it was a great scam and that I might even fall for it. Then I read the actual message that comes up and as usual it looks like a child wrote it. All those exclamation points and the fact that it lists so many wildly different crimes are dead giveaway’s that its not real. I laughed at the 72 hours to pay the fine or you will be arrested line. So what their saying with this screen is that you have been caught doing illegal things so pay this fine and then you can go back to doing those illegal things. The governments messed up but its not that bad.

  2. I had never heard of ransomware before reading this article and I agree with Kyandra, it does appear to be a great scam idea that had I not read this article, I too may have fallen for. The notion that malware can scam a person so convincingly by impersonating what is seen in our society as a credible and powerful force such as the FBI or other law enforcement agencies is quite scary.The implication that a user is being fined for pornography or other common embarrassing internet acts fuels the ethical dilemma that this scam feeds on, which is that these people probably feel paying the fake fine is better than others knowing the unethical/immoral things they’ve done on the internet. I think for this reason many people have paid the fine and that is why ransomware is able to extort $5 million a year from internet users. The fear of having ones unethical/wrong behaviors, rather committed or not, revealed to others combined with the locking of the computer making it no longer usable is quite a powerful extortion method that this malware uses. After reading this article I believe that ransomware will certainly keep being a problem for internet users as technology and malware continue to become more sophisticated and advanced.

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