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Ransomware – What is it?

Ever wondered what ransomware actually is? In this short video we look at how cybercriminals are targeting people through ransomware and why you should be wary of it.

Ransomware is malicious software that either disables a device or encrypts user files, it holds the victims system hostage until a ransom is paid.

Ransomware will find all your files and encrypt them, it then leaves you with a prominent message saying that if you want your data back you must pay.

Usually, payment is demanded in the cybercriminals favoured digital currency: bitcoin.

Ransomware encrypts your files using a private key that only the attacker knows.

Should you pay? Well, if you do, you’ve about a 90% chance of recovering your data.

Though, of course your problems may not end there. Ransomware infects computers, networks and increasingly, mobile phones.

Countless individuals, businesses, government departments, educational institutions and even law enforcement agencies have become ransomware victims. It is usually introduced unwittingly by opening a malicious email or visiting a compromised website.

Social engineering techniques, like a countdown timer to key destruction are often used. These ratchet up the pressure on the poor victim.

For the cybercriminal, ransomware is the most profitable form of extortion. Global ransomware costs will exceed five billion dollars in 2017 up by fifteen times in just two years.

Ransomware is growing at an annual rate of three hundred and fifty percent! From the cybercriminals viewpoint, it’s faster, easier and less risky than other forms of crime. Around forty percent of spam email contains either ransomware links or attachments.

In the next video, I’ll talk about how to avoid falling victim to ransomware.

Other videos in this topic:

Ransomware – How to avoid it.
Ransomware – Dealing with it.

Other videos you may be interested in:

How to spot scam emails –


Key sources for this video

Anon (2017a) Ransomware Damage Costs $5 Billion in 2017, Up from $350 Million in 2015 Cybersecurity Ventures [online]. Available from: [Accessed 18 September 2017].
Anon (no date) Ransomware Lessons for the Financial Services Industry. Available from: [Accessed 18 September 2017a].
Datto, Inc (2016) Datto’s 2016 Global Ransomware Report. Available from: [Accessed 11 April 2017].
Verizon (2017) 2017 Data Breaches Investigations Report [online]. Available from: