Ransomware attacks doubled in first quarter

Extortion attacks surged 165 percent in first three months of 2015, McAfee Labs finds

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Intel owned McAfee Labs Threats Report for May found that extortion attacks - known as ransomware-  almost doubled in the first quarter of 2015. During the same period ransomware infections from Adobe Flash software on streaming media and casual gaming sites quadrupled.

Ransomware is a kind of malware which hackers use to extort money by locking victims’ computers. When a user clicks on an infected link or opens a suspicious document the program encrypts all the data stored on the computer, leaving a demand for ransom on screen. After paying a ransom ranging from $100 to $500, criminals send a key to unlock the files.

This type of cybercrime first appeared in Russia over the last decade and spread worldwide in the last four years. The global efforts of police agencies brought a slight decline in the attacks in 2014 after a crackdown on a major ransomware network.

However, McAfee chief technology officer Raj Samani said in an interview that newer “sleeper” versions of ransomware are on the rise. These versions encrypt files when data backups are made.

Samani added that Intel Security found 700,000 incidences of ransomware on computers, phones and networks in the first three months of 2015.

In the same quarter Adobe Flash malware increased 317 percent. Outdated versions of the software are the primary targets. Intel Security found 200,000 programs of this kind in its customers’ hardware.

TRTWorld and agencies