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What is ransomware?

It sounds to many of us that we have ever seen a brief piece of news about ransomware that attacks companies or large organizations, rendering their data useless and demanding a ransom. We think that it will never happen to us, but we are not really aware of or aware of what the scope may be and how it affects areas that you could not even imagine.

Let's see what it means and what it consists of in a very summary way.

What does Ransomware mean?

Ransom means "kidnapping"And ware comes from “software”. Therefore, its literal translation is software hijacking. As you can see, with only the translation we can already have a very close idea of ​​what we are talking about.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a malware, family of malicious software, whose purpose is to take control of our computer or device through remote access. Once control is achieved, we proceed to block access and / or encrypt files with our information to prevent us from entering and working on them.

This malware or virus it is nothing new. The first Ransomware dates from the year 1989 and was called Reveton. yesIts mechanics were very similar to today's: When a computer was infected, it immediately displayed a message on the screen pretending that it came from some official authority agency. The message displayed on the screen informed the user that their computer had been tapped and was being monitored for illegal activities, such as downloading pirated software or child pornography, and therefore, they were required to pay a fine that they had to pay. in an anonymous account using an online payment platform such as Ukash or Paysafecard.

But of course, this was in 1989, neither more nor less than 27 years ago. Keep in mind that the internet back then was something that only some crazy people and geeks knew and used, however today who can survive without the internet. ?

By now, we all know that cybercrime is always one step ahead, and that over time its tactics are becoming more efficient and incredibly more complex when it comes to detecting and stopping.

Starting in 2012, this malware reappeared, but with a much more sophisticated technique. In Europe it began to spread, but in the US this type of scam was already a reality and numerous complaints began to arise.

In the image below, you can see an example of what was the result of an infected computer in the US. Like its predecessor, a message with the FBI logo was launched on the screen, demanding the payment of $ 200, within a maximum period of 72 hours as a fine for having carried out illegal activities with your computer. In Europe it worked the same way, the only difference was in the logo of the authority that the relevant one of the country put on.

A very famous case of the damage caused by ransomware

We are going to tell you a story about a ransomware attack. On February 5, 2016, at the hospital Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, in California, USA. At one point, when they tried to access their computer system, they realized that a much of the hospital information, patient records and medical reports, were inaccessible. The files had been encrypted, and If they wanted the key to decrypt them, they were required to ransom $ 17.000 within 5 days.

The hospital's computer network was practically paralyzed, even some tests such as X-rays, scans, etc. could not be done since, as we already know, all this is computerized.

For a week the hospital was forced to manage the information manually. Fax machines had to be rescued and patient information was collected in a notepad. The $ 17.000 ransomThey did not ask for them like in the movies, in unnumbered bills, nor that they were deposited in an encrypted account in Switzerland, none of that, they wanted it in cryptocurrency in Bitcoins.

Relationship between ransomware and cryptocurrencies

For those who are not clear about what bitcoins and cryptocurrencies are le I would highly recommend that you read the attached links. If you don't know, you won't be able to grasp the fullness of the situation. It is going very unnoticed and is of vital importance to everyone.

Bitcoin at the time of writing the original article was trading at a value of $380. The payment of 44 bitcoin, approximately, was required. In four months, the value of bitcoin doubled. It went on to trade at $768 per bitcoin unit. The initial ransom was doubled to $34.000.

And this was not an isolated case, shortly after, other medical centers received attacks from this same malware.

Hospital Kentucky Methodist received an attack, at the end of March the next victim was MedStar Health, a non-profit healthcare organization consisting of 10 hospitals and more than 250 clinics in Maryland/Washington, D.C.,

The health sector has become a favorite target for this type of malware. His cruelty is such that it is unbearable. youthey took the sick hostage to get its benefits. If these benefits are not satisfied in the amount and conditions required, all the information of the medical center is destroyed. This implies a high risk of serious complications in patients.

As I have already pointed out, these attacks, due to their effectiveness, are increasing and causing a high economic cost.

In the US, during 2014 the FBI investigated 1.838 complaints regarding this type of attack at a cost of $ 23,7 million and in 2015 another 2.453 cases were reported at a cost of $ 24,1 million.

What is most striking is the combination of the hacker's knowledge with the financial world. Let's analyze very above what would be the effect that it causes or can cause on the value of Bitcoin. It's amazing. Logically, in most cases, and particularly in hospitals, at the moment they do not work with bitcoins, therefore, to pay the ransom, they had no choice but to go out and buy them, this causes a sudden demand, obviously producing a rise in price.

And now let's imagine that the cybercriminal keeps those bitcoins and continues to commit this type of act, asking for bitcoins as a ransom. Obviously, the profitability of the previous ransoms received will increase incredibly.

It can affect us all

It may seem silly, but even if you are a very anonymous user on the internet, you are not going to be completely immune to ransomware because it affects everyone. It is possible that one day you download a file or it is entered through a trusted page and your computer may have hijacked personal data.

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Robert Sole

Director of Contents and Writing of this same website, technician in renewable energy generation systems and low voltage electrical technician. I work in front of a PC, in my free time I am in front of a PC and when I leave the house I am glued to the screen of my smartphone. Every morning when I wake up I walk across the Stargate to make some coffee and start watching YouTube videos. I once saw a dragon ... or was it a Dragonite?

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