Criminals use ransomware to extort money from individual users and big businesses. Time
SAN FRANCISCOÂ â Ransomware surged last year, becomingÂ a multi-million dollar business that'sÂ so profitable it's creating a "vicious cycle" of ever-increasing attacks, sayÂ researchers at New York UniversityÂ and GoogleÂ who tracked the criminals'Â payment networks.
âItâs here to stay,â saidÂ Elie Bursztein, anti-abuse research lead atÂ Google.
The findings suggest that â even though the last two large ransomware attacks, WannaCry and Petya, did not seem to raise that much money â the criminal cyber industry in general has much to gain by exploiting users with these attacks.
The research team was able to track ransomware payment addresses and information via public sales of the digital currency bitcoin, watching more than $25 million in payments over the past two years.Â They plan to present their research on Wednesday in Las Vegas at Black Hat, one of the country's largest computer security conferences.
Ransomware is malicious software that criminals use to first infect a victim's computer and then encryptÂ the files on it. To regain access to their files, victims must pay a ransom, typically in anonymous digital currency such as bitcoin.
It is increasingly one of the biggest money-makers for cyber criminals, who have been diligentlyÂ creating new forms of itÂ to boost their earnings. A recent variant, Cerber, is able to fully encrypt a newly-infected computer in under a minute andÂ has consistently made $200,000 per month over the last year, the researchers found.
âItâs a vicious cycle, the more money they make, the more aggressively they spr...