News You Really Need To See: “Ransomware: Your Money or Your Data”

“Ransomware: Your Money or Your Data”

The Economist, January 17-23, 2015, p.57

When internal e-mails and unreleased films from Sony were leaked late last year, it was the origin of the hack (perhaps North Korea) and the embarrassing details (withering comments on film stars) that made the news.  Less remarked was that the hackers had offered the media giant the chance to avoid the leak by acquiescing to its demands, which have not been made public.  Such cyber-hold-ups are on the rise globally and go far beyond big firms. … Ransomware is here to stay, says Troels Oerting of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre.  The emergence of bitcoin, a digital cryptocurrency that can be used anonymously, is a big part of the reason.  Most ransoms must be paid in it, and ransom notes typically explain how to buy it. … Many of the extortionists are from Russia; its authorities are uninterested in hunting them down.  Their victims are everywhere.  In Australia alone, estimates the Australian Crime Commission, a government agency, between August and mid-December around 16,000 individuals, firms and government bodies paid a total of A$8m ($7m) after downloading ransomware.”

Quickie analysis:  Big business in cyber-mugging.  

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