Cyber Security Awareness Month: Ransomware

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A person using a computer keyboard.

(FBI) – Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software) that blocks access to a computer system or file by encrypting data until a monetary amount is paid. Ransomware has become a significant threat to
U.S. businesses, government, public services, schools, and individuals. It targets both human and technical weaknesses in organizations’ and individuals’ networks in an effort to deny the availability of critical data and systems. Even if a ransom is paid, there is no guarantee the cyber-criminal will decrypt the files of the impacted entity.

Ransomware victims are at risk of losing not only their files, but they may also experience significant financial loss due to paying the ransom, loss of productivity, legal fees, incident response fees, purchasing credit monitoring services for employees or customers, etc. Ransomware actors are increasingly moving to anonymizing platforms to host criminal infrastructure and are using virtual currency to collect the ransom paid, making it difficult for law enforcement to track the perpetrators. Ransomware can be delivered to a computer via a number of different methods. Delivery methods can include phishing e-mails which contain malicious attachment or links to malicious websites. Ransomware can also be delivered through weak security when an infected device remotely connects to a larger network that is not secure.

In almost all cases, the criminal involved demand some kind of payment from the victim. The victims are told that if they pay the ransom, frequently demanding some kind of digital currency, then the criminal will unlock their data. The criminals do not always unlock the data.

While the FBI encourages businesses and individuals not to pay the ransom demand, we understand that this fraud frequently impacts business and personal lives, and that decision needs to be made to continue to operate businesses and go about our lives. However, frequently the cheapest means of protection is simply insuring your virus protection software is up-to-date, ensuring robust digital security, and making frequent backups of your critical and important data.

In 2017, IC3 received 1,783 Ransomware complaints with losses in excess of $2.3 million dollars. To provide information related to Ransomware scams you can submit a complaint to, email us at, or contact the Little Rock Field Office of the FBI at (501) 221 – 9100.

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