Ransomware netting cyber criminals millions of dirhams yearly
- United Arab Emirates: Thursday, January 10 - 2013 at 11:50
- PRESS RELEASE
New research from Symantec sheds light on a rapidly growing class of cyber attack known as ransomware. Symantec's conservative estimate is that cyber criminals are raking in over $5m (over Dhhs18m) a year from victims as a result of this scam, and that number is likely to grow.
However, it has increasingly become a popular ploy among numerous international online criminal gangs, spreading the threat to Western Europe, the United States, Canada and the Middle East over the past year.
The scam works by using malware to disable victims' computers until they pay a ransom to restore access.
Cyber criminals often use social engineering tricks, such as displaying phony messages purporting to be from local law enforcement, to convince victims to pay up. Such messages often include warnings such as, 'You have browsed illicit materials and must pay a fine'.
Symantec's research shows that up to 2.9% of victims end up paying ransoms. That number is significant given fees range up to $460 (Dhs1,690) and one gang was observed attempting to infect 495,000 computers over the course of just 18 days.
The best defense against this rapidly evolving threat is a good offense. Users should keep their computers, including their operating systems and applications, up-to-date with the latest updates from manufacturers. In addition, using security software to block infections is also a necessary step to prevent falling victim to this scam.
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