Cybercriminals gangs are creating a surge in ransomware, says a new report from Symantec.
Ransomware is a type of malware best described as an online extortion racket. Malware locks or disables your PC in some way and then demands payment in the form of a “fine” to render your PC usable again. Like most scams, the ransomware message claims to come from a legitimate organization, such as the government or a public corporation, to try to convince victims that they did something wrong to incur the fine.
But paying the fine does nothing since the initial malware remains on the PC and must still be manually removed.
This scam has risen in popularity over the past several years, but 2012 witnessed an increase in both the number and variety of ransomware campaigns, Symantec said in its report. That growth is due largely to a upsurge in the number of worldwide criminal gangs using this scheme to make a buck.
“From just a few small groups experimenting with this fraud, several organized gangs are now taking this scheme to a professional level and the number of compromised computers has increased,” the report noted. “Symantec has identified at least 16 different versions of ransomware.”
One malware investigation mentioned in the report discovered 68,000 affected computers in a single month. Another one caught a Trojan attempting to infect 500,000 PCs over the course of just 18 days. (Read More)