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Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files and then demands a ransom payment in order to decrypt them. These types of threats are a major security concern, and have been around for years.

Traditionally, ransomware was spread through email attachments that came from infected websites or Trojan horses. However, more recent attacks utilize spear-phishing campaigns as well as advanced exploitation techniques to infect systems.

Today’s ransomware is more sophisticated in many ways, encrypting files faster and more quietly whether it’s online or offline, spreading across systems, and coercing ransom payments. Additionally, many attackers are turning to new and more effective methods for generating income from ransomware.

In some cases, these tactics can be used to target businesses, hospitals, schools and other large organizations. As a result, it’s important for companies to have a reliable data recovery infrastructure in place.

The first ransomware was a relatively simple variant that encrypted files on 5-1/4′′ floppy disks. This was a very insecure and poorly engineered approach that eventually gave way to modern-day ransomware, which uses advanced encryption algorithms and cryptographic technology.

The more common variants of ransomware encrypt files by using asymmetric encryption that creates two different ciphertexts for each file. This process can be completed in seconds, which means that the victim isn’t given much time to react. After the files are encrypted, a ransom note is displayed, containing instructions on how to pay the attackers to decrypt them. The deadline for paying the ransom is usually one week, but attackers may increase the ransom or delete the files if it’s not paid by then.