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Cyber Safety Glossary


Also Known As:
Ransomware, Cryptovirus, Cryptotrojan, Cyrptoworm.

Ransomware is one of the newest threats on the internet. This form of Malware encrypts computer files and then leaves a ransom note demanding money in exchange for a key to unlock the files. Computer expert Oliver Friedrichs describes Ransomware as, “Equivalent to someone coming into your home, putting your valuables in a safe, and not telling you the combination.”

Only a few cases of Ransomware have been reported. News stories indicated that experts were able to de-crypt and recover most if not all the files for those infected. Leading computer scientists in the field of cryptovirology warn, however, that more attacks are not only possible, but likely. They fear an outbreak of a sophisticated, potentially more harmful Cryptovirus could infect thousands of unprotected computers.

To guard against this emerging threat it is important to:

  • Have up-to-date security software installed and running on the computer
  • Back up important files regularly
  • Do not open unsolicited email attachments and do not click on links in suspicious/unsolicited email.

An annoying and somewhat less harmful form of this Malware is closer to extortion than ransom. The threat comes from inadvertently downloading Spyware, which continues to throw pop-up ads on the computer screen urging the user to buy a software package to get rid of…yes, Spyware. This type of Extortionware comes from downloading free software or through vulnerabilities in the computer’s Web browser.

Always be very wary of downloading software, often touted to be free, from suspicious sources such as pop-up ads. Ensure that the computer has up-to-date Spyware protection. Set the computer to receive automatic security patches and updates from your browser provider, or regularly visit the provider’s Web site in order to download the most recent patch.