An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Feb. 17, 2021

CID Lookout: Ransomware: A Virtual Hostage Situation

According to Edward LaBarge, director of CID’s Major Cybercrime Unit, there was a rise in
ransomware cyberattacks in 2020 and the trend is expected to continue this year.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny a user access to a
computer system or computer files until the ransom, typically cryptocurrency, has been paid.
Ransomware uses encryption to hold the data hostage and requires a decryption key before a user
is granted access.

Similar to other types of malware, ransomware is one of many methods used by cybercriminals
to gain data from users and to attempt financial gain. The first recorded ransomware attack was
in December 1989 using floppy discs. As ransomware evolved, it moved away from being a tool
exclusively used by advanced cybercriminals and became a service that can be implemented by
any cybercriminal willing to purchase the software.

Today, there are many methods used by cybercriminals to trick a user into downloading
ransomware. The most common ransomware attack methods to look out for are from socially
engineered phishing emails, links in forums or search engines to compromised or copycat
websites containing a malicious download, fake social media impersonators, and through
software vulnerabilities.