Ransomware is a malware that prevents or restricts users from accessing computer systems.  Hackers will 

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a malware that prevents or restricts users from accessing computer systems. Hackers will infect and intrude into target computer systems via emails, websites or malicious advertisements. With ransomware installed on computers or other devices within the network, certain files such as document files, spreadsheets, digital photos, etc. will be encrypted and become inaccessible to the users. A message will then appear on victims’ computers, demanding ransom payments in Bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key.

WannaCry, a ransomware, was distributed on the Internet worldwide in 2017. The infected computers displayed a ransom note with red background to notify the victims to pay in Bitcoins for decryption.

(Photo captured from Wikipedia)

Ransomware tactics evolve over time. In recent years, hackers have started to use new tactics, namely, double extortion, triple extortion, or even quadruple extortion to attack.

Double extortion

After infecting the target computer system with tactics like phishing attack or system loophole, and making it inaccessible to the victim, the hacker would extract sensitive information of the victim. If the victim refuses to pay the ransom, he/she may not be able to decrypt the files, and the stolen files may also be made public on the Internet.

Triple extortion

Hackers extract sensitive information of the target company, including the commercial confidential information between customers or business partners. Apart from extorting money from the target companies, the hacker would also extort its customers and business partners for more ransom.

Quadruple extortion

Not limited to the above triple extortion, hackers would further threaten to launch DDoS attacks against the target companies, that is to paralyse targeted network services by flooding them with a huge volume of network traffic to force them to pay a ransom.

In early 2021, an overseas computer manufacturer was attacked by a hacker using triple extortion, involving a ransom of nearly 400 million Hong Kong dollars. The hacker stole the product design plans between the company and its partner, and warned them if ransom was not paid in time, the amount would be doubled. As the company refused to do so, the hacker published its design plans online successively, and even extorted payment directly from its partner.

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