Illegal, crippling, threatening, malicious – words many may use to describe ransomware and the affect it is having on businesses across the globe. Booming? Thriving? Successful? While these descriptors may not always make the list, they are just as true.
Before we dive into how this aspect of cybercrime is growing into an industry in and of itself, let’s take a look at the nature of the beast.
Ransomware by definition is malware planted illegally in a computer or mobile device that disables its operation or access to its data until the owner or operator pays to regain control or access. The first ransomware attack came on the scene in 1989 via 20,000 floppy disks which were distributed claiming to house programs for AIDS research. After 90 machine reboots, the ransomware was triggered and demanded $189 per machine to regain access, this attack became known as the AIDS Trojan. Since this first attack, the malware and demands have flourished in terms of sophistication and devastation.
So how has this form of cybercrime grown from a nuisance into the “thriving business” it is today?