Published in El Pais, February 6th 2020.
As technology changes so due the types of crime. Sure, traditional crimes still exist but now many tech savvy criminals are finding ways to commit cyber crimes in the comfort of their own homes. Fraudsters can phish for banking passwords to transfer funds to themselves, can extract private information from major corporations to sell to the highest bidder, or they can crimple a company’s network which they would be happy to fix, for a fee.
The crime is ransomware and it certainly is not new, but it is gaining more media attention, last month a Canadian medical company had to pay hackers an undisclosed sum to not release the data of 15 million clients. A recent study shows that the average cost of such an attack has averaged $84,000.
A big factor into why these attacks are successful is because more often then not the payments are paid despite law enforcements repeated attempt to plead with victims not to pay it. Why? While nothing in life is guaranteed almost all ransoms that end up being paid result in all stolen data being recovered.
Now you might be thinking that only large companies are targeted and while of course you worry when your data is compromised, you think you do not have to worry about your own cybersecurity beyond protecting yourself from the average virus. Unfortunately, that is not the case as while the reward may not be large as companies like Facebook, the work is a lot less. Often these victims are convinced there is something wrong with their computer and willingly download a trojan software which locks them out of their computer. To get back in they must pay. Again, this is not to scare you but merely educate you. There are always people out there who will try to take your money, simply have an antivirus software on your computer and be wary of any other software or person telling you that your computer is compromised. That way at least you will only have to worry about big companies exposing your data to hackers (sorry, I have no advice on how to handle that).