Personal computers remain some of the most useful pieces of technology in most people’s homes. Modern homes generally support Wi-Fi streaming and smart applications that help to reduce costs and environmental impacts. If you have a personal computer managing the applications, your home might be at risk of a cybersecurity threat.
Automated ransomware attacks are targeting consumers in growing numbers. Researchers at Stanford University recently confirmed that home computers remain a significant target among ransomware criminals. About 7.5 million personal computers wind up infected with ransomware. Many of the owners of those computers pay nominal ransoms to reverse the effects of ransomware attacks.
A ransomware attack generally takes control of a computer program and its extensions and makes it impossible for you to log in and view your data. The ransomware can encrypt the data and leave it encrypted until you either pay a ransom or pay someone to defeat the ransomware.
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Many Consumers Pay to Remove Ransomware
With up to 7.5 million personal computers infected with ransomware every year, the potential to make lots of money remains for cybercriminals. Only about 4 percent of ransomware attacks on personal computers result in ransoms paid. Many people find it preferable to replace the computers for less money, but that is not always an option.
When consumers do pay ransom due to cyber attacks that load ransomware, Stanford University’s researchers say consumers with affected computers pay an average of about $530 in ransom.
The sum is much smaller than the online criminals could get from attacking large enterprises and governmental computers. But the amount paid each year ranges from about $105 million to nearly $150 million. The combined total in illegal proceeds from ransomware attacks on personal computers represents a good profit and ensures the illegal activity will continue.
Large Organizations Could Pay Millions at a Time
Stanford University says more than 80 percent of all ransomware attacks target computing systems that are owned by large entities. Businesses, governmental agencies, and nonprofits alike are very dependent upon flawless computing capabilities to stay up and running. And they have money more readily available to pay large sums in ransom.
When ransomware strikes a large organization, the ransom could total tens of millions of dollars. The computing system for a large organization usually is much harder to crack than a personal computer. But the potential payoff makes it very worthwhile.
The risk is worth the reward for experienced cybercriminals who target large organizations with ransomware. But they run a much greater risk of getting caught or having their ransomware defeated.
A large organization and especially a governmental entity has more people on the payroll to counteract ransomware attacks and other online criminality. They also have a greater ability to motivate federal and state criminal investigations into online criminal activity. So the risk of getting caught is much higher when targeting organizations rather than individuals. But so is the potential payoff.
With stronger protections and a greater ability to initiate criminal investigations, the penalties can be high for targeting large organizations. So many of the larger criminal hacks are initiated by people in other nations. And the ransom many times is collected in Bitcoins or other types of cryptocurrency.
Automated Ransomware Mostly Targets Consumers
Most people buy current-generation laptops and PCs that run widely known Microsoft programs. Those programs generally are of high quality. They also are vulnerable to innovative cyber attacks that use recently created technologies to defeat your computer’s security systems.
When you use commonly known programs, that makes it much easier for cybercriminals to use automated ransomware and other hacking tools. They can send out the ransomware and wait for people to download them. Even a small percentage of downloads could result in a significant number of consumers being threatened with ransomware and willing to pay a nominal amount to get rid of it.
Automated ransomware also helps to build in a layer of protection for the cybercriminals. It separates the actual people from the invasive program that exists only to commit criminal acts targeting consumers. But consumers can obtain additional security programs to greatly reduce the potential of successful hacking.
Beat Back Automated Online Attacks
The best way to address internet cyber security issues is to ensure your home has comprehensive protection against ransomware and other online threats. Many types of current security systems for your home computer can prevent unwanted intrusions. Downloading and using an effective cybersecurity program can help to protect personal computers and online accounts.
You also can store information on backup drives and other hardware that you leave offline. Backup drives help consumers to protect their sensitive files and make it easier to thwart ransomware attacks. That can help you to beat back automated online attacks and other security threats.