With alarming frequency, ransomware hackers are sneaking into consumer and business computers, encrypting files containing photos, documents and other important data, and then demanding a ransom in exchange for the key needed to decrypt the files. At times, these hackers pose as the FBI or other law enforcement officials and claim that the ransom is a “fine” for viewing illegal material and that failure to pay the “fine” will result in criminal prosecution. Consumers, businesses, and government agencies are falling prey to these schemes, including hospitals whose servers may contain sensitive patient data. New forms of ransomware encrypt files of website operators, threatening not only their files containing stored data, but the very files needed to operate their websites. Other variants of ransomware are now targeting files on mobile devices. The Ransomware workshop will address questions such as:
- How do ransomware extortionists gain access to consumer and business computers?
- What role can consumer and business education play in preventing ransomware infections?
- Are there steps consumers and businesses should be taking to reduce the risk of ransomware or to decrease its impact?
- Are there technological measures that computer operating system and web browser designers can take to prevent ransomware?
- Are there browser plug-ins or other tools that consumers and businesses can employ that will warn if their data is about to be encrypted?
- What can be learned from criminal law enforcement’s efforts to combat ransomware?
- If you fall prey to ransomware, should you pay the ransom?
- If you pay the ransom, how likely are you to receive the decryption key and be able to view your files?
- What happens if you don’t pay the ransom? Are your files lost forever?