Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Ransomware: A Research and a Personal Case Study of Dealing with This Nasty Malware

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Ransomware: A Research and a Personal Case Study of Dealing with This Nasty Malware

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

If Ron Howard were to remake his 1996 film ransom today, instead of Mel Gibson passionately screaming "Give me back my Son!" in response to the kidnapper's demand, he very well could have Gibson scream "Give me back my files!" in response to cybercriminal's demands for ransom (Solander, Forman, & Glasser, 2016, p. 53).

The quotation above reflects a dichotomy between two kidnapping crimes examples: one happens in the real world and the second take place in cyberspace. Lemos (2015) noted the following about the first type of crime "IN THE REAL world kidnapping is a risky crime--getting paid usually means getting caught" (p. 45). Yet the kidnapping crimes in cyberspace is becoming more popular, it is on a sharp rise in terms on number of attacks and losses they cause and they also leave many who were infected with it in chaotic situations (Constantin, 2016, Heater, 2016, Tutle, 2016). This ransomware problem is becoming so severe that many call these the people who infect computers as criminals or cyber criminals (Bhardwaj, Avasthi, Sastry, & Subrahmanyam, 2016) and the whole operation is called by some as "cyber extortion" (Goldsborough, 2016). The point to emphasize is that this problem is becoming big and awareness of this ransomware may be helpful to avoid it.

The author of this paper illustrates his experience in dealing with ransomware after getting one of his family computers infected with the malware and after losing valuable data files. The purpose of this paper is to share knowledge about this malware, raise awareness about the risk of this malware and a hope to find a solution for data our family lost. The remainder of this paper is divided into the following sections:

--The first section explains about Ransomware, the meaning of it, a brief historical background, and some additional information about it

--The second section describes the ransomware process--the steps that it takes from the first time that a computer is infected with a virus to the last step where users pay ransom and get their files back. Often many do not pay the ransom and may end up losing their files.

--The third section illustrates the experience of the author in how he unknowingly downloaded the malware, how it encrypted files, and how he did not pay the ransom and his data files remain encrypted. It also explains the dealing in the aftermath of infected with ransomware.

--The last section provides a summary of the study and suggested cautionary recommendations in dealing with this malware.

ABOUT RANSOMWARE-A LITERATURE REVIEW

This section reviews literature about ransomware, the meaning of it, a brief history on how it developed, and some stories from people who were infected with this malware and additional information. The purpose of this information is to shed light and give basic knowledge about this malware so to establish a basic understanding as we go into the next section when we discuss the ransomware process.

RANSOMWARE AS DEFINED

Ransomware came from two words ransom and ware. Webster's dictionary defined Ransom as "money that is paid in order to free someone who has been captured or kidnapped" ("ransom," 2016) and as "a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity". At the same time, Webster's dictionary likened the word "ware" with "aware and gave example of their use in a sentence "was ware of black looks cast at me" ("ware," 2016). So the meaning for the word is that someone is holding something, is making others aware that he/she is holding a person, and is making a demand for a payment in order for the person held hostage be released.

This knowledge of the two words (ransom and ware) as understood in life brought into the cyber technology field. Different people have defined ransomware from different points of view and addressed them at various stages. …

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