Another popular enterprise for Russian cybercriminals is organizing ransomware campaigns that target Western companies and individuals. Click on a ransomware-infected link or email attachment and you’ll be helping these thieves “earn” a salary that is—on average—13 times that of average Russian wages. (In case you need a refresher, ransomware is malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.)
So what types of users have been targeted by this particular form of extortion? Check out the (partial) list below and see how many groups you are associated with.
- Government Workers – Just this month, a large-scale ransomware campaign reportedly targeted U.S. government agencies with hundreds of thousands of emails containing embedded malicious URLs. ZDNet.
- Office 365 Users –A ransomware attack in June of this year targeted millions of Office 365 users via a phishing campaign. InfoWorld.
- Public Institutions – Many vital public institutions such as fire stations are especially vulnerable to this malware. Such organizations would likely waste no time paying the ransom so they could avoid life-risking network downtime. Scientific American.
- Hospitals – Back in February, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 to hackers who took over its systems via a ransomware attack. Cyber-extortionists quickly smelled blood in the water. NBC News.
- Online shoppers – In May 2016, a new ransomware attack targeting Amazon users was detected, using a spoofed sender address. At the same time, new survey showed that most consumers are clueless about ransomware and what to do about it. Infosecurity.
- Mobile device users – There’s a form of ransomware attack that takes aim at employees and customers of banking institutions by infecting mobile phones. First appearing in Europe, this particular malware, called Svpeng, may issue a ransomware ultimatum or it may collect the users bank log-in credentials instead. Bank Info Security.
- Android Smart TV Owners – Sharp and Philips smart TVs that run the Android TV OS could be hit by FLocker, a device-locking ransomware designed specially to attack these sets. Help Net Security.
- Small and Midsized Businesses – "SMBs are incredibly vulnerable to (ransomware) attacks," warned Ed Cabrera, vice president of cybersecurity strategy at Trend Micro, an IT security company. CNBC.
- Average computer users – Cybercriminals can make their money in volume, and there are a lot of run-of-the-mill computer users in this world. Would you pay $10,000 to get your computer files back? Maybe not … but what about $200? Now multiply $200 times a few million. CSO from IDG.
Do all these examples of ransomware come from Russia? Probably most, but not all. Then again, if your computer files are taken hostage the last thing you’ll care about is the malware’s homeland. To help make sure that you don’t become a ransomware victim, why not look again at one of our previous articles on this subject. And right after that, let SynchroNet assist you with a strategy for dealing with ransomware … wherever it comes from.