If there is one threat that embodies modern cybercrime, it's ransomware. Ransomware actually dates back nearly three decades, yet for a threat with such a simple concept - encrypting sensitive files and systems, and then demanding payment - it has only soared into the public consciousness over the last few years. Why?
This growing prevalence of ransomware incidents, affecting both consumers and businesses, has occurred in parallel with the continued evolution of the criminal underground, which is built to outfit even technically challenged extortionists with the means to pull off such a heist and amass tidy profits - and thanks to Bitcoin, to do it quickly and anonymously.
In addition, ransomware contains far fewer stages of risk than a criminal may encounter in other types of digital attacks, such as intrusions designed to steal credit card numbers. And with companies now all-in on their reliance of computer systems and connected devices to conduct business, it is almost as if the ransomware phenomenon was just waiting for all of the pieces to be in place before its violent outbreak.
Nowadays, you can't avoid ransomware in the headlines. Whether it's a new variant, a new study or a new research discovery, ransomware seems to be front in center in the actions of many of today's cybercriminals. Sadly, there is no magic wand to reversing its course, but there are steps you can take to limit your exposure.
Remember, ransomware attackers want to make a quick buck and roam the path of least resistance to get there. In the video above, Threat Intelligence Manager Karl Sigler describes some of the steps you can take to become a less-optimal victim.
Dan Kaplan is manager of online content at Trustwave and a former IT security reporter and editor.