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A common infection this - the ransom comes in the form of software designed to hold critical information hostage through encryption unless a fee is paid out to criminals. Once the payment is made, the malware restores the files.
One which we've seen quite a bit of locally is the ukash - chshire police ransomware - asking victims to pay £100 supposedly to avoid prosecution - a total hoax.
The latest piece of notable ransomware was Cryptolocker, which demanded $300 to unlock files. However, the concept is not a recent one.
In April 2012, two ransomware variants were discovered by TrendMicro, F-Secure, and Dr Web, which demanded €50 to unlock files.
Earlier than that, in 2009, CA (now CA Technologies) discovered more ransomware that held files hostage for $100. The LoroBot malware claimed to use 256-bit AES encryption, but the files were actually encrypted using an XOR cipher, allowing CA's researchers to create a tool for victims to restore their files.
Unfortunately, not all ransomware is created with backdoors or weak encryption, and the fact that the criminals do often keep their word and release the files held hostage presents security researchers with an ethical dilemma.
In some cases, the infrastructure used to spread the ransomware is the same as that used to retrieve paid-for keys. Researchers intervening with the intention of stopping the spread of ransomware can, inadvertently, be responsible for ensuring that victims can never decrypt their information.