We are all familiar now with the cyberthreat presented by ransomware, which is malware which when downloaded to your computer encrypts all of your data and threatens to destroy your data unless you pay a prompt ransom, generally in the form of bitcoins. Reproduced below is what appears on your computer screen when you become a victim of this new strain of ransomware.
This new strain of ransomware called Fatboy is being sold on Russian Dark Web sites where cybercriminals can partner with the creator of Fatboy to spread the malware and share in the profits. What is most interesting about Fatboy, however is how the ransom is calculated, which is done by first identifying the country where the ransomware infected victim is located and then applying what is known as the Big Mac Index to come up with the ransom demand. The Big Mac Index is a financial index created by the Economist, a financial publication that compares countries’ purchasing power by comparing the purchase price for a McDonald’s Big Mac in those countries.
The key to not becoming a victim of a ransomware attack is to prevent it in the first place. Generally, the malware is installed unwittingly by victims when they are lured through phishing and spear phishing emails to click on links infected with the malware. Never click on links in emails or text messages regardless of how legitimate they may appear until you have verified that it is legitimate. You should also install anti-phishing software.
It is also important to not only have anti-malware software installed on all of your electronic devices, but to make sure that you update the security software with the latest security patches and updates. Many victims of ransomware have fallen victim to strains of ransomware for which there are already security software available to thwart it. Finally, always back up your computer’s data daily, preferably in two different ways in order to protect your data in the event you do become a victim of ransomware.