Ransomware is a specific category of malware that causes harm to the computer and the computer system. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency defines ransomware as “an ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable.” The threat actors (hackers) behind ransomware often organize in groups to execute attacks.
According to the Institute for Security and Technology, “Ransomware is not just financial extortion; it is a crime that transcends business, government, academic and geographic boundaries. It has disproportionately impacted the healthcare industry during the COVID pandemic, and has shut down schools, hospitals, police stations, city governments, and U.S. military facilities.”
Ransomware is a global challenge. Organizations all over the world are at risk of these attacks. An attack in one country can easily spread across borders, intentionally or not.
Another reason for the growing global issue is cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin is untraceable, making it nearly impossible to catch the hackers. This form of currency is also borderless: it is a global currency that can be used by anyone.
Despite the size of the problem, one person can really make a difference. Remember the most important behaviors to help stop an attack on your organization: go slow, be suspicious, verify, report any concerns, and follow policies and procedures.
Student contributor Harrison Stites (class of 2022) will be covering ransomware incidents in more detail for an upcoming issue of SECURED. Be sure not to miss it!