Ransomware Punishment

What happens if you commit ransomware? Ransomware is malware that uses encryption to store victim information for ransom. Important user or organization data is encrypted so they cannot access files, databases, or applications.

A ransom is then requested for access. Often designed to spread across networks and target databases and file servers, ransomware can quickly paralyze an organization.

It is a continuous threat that generates billions of dollars in payments to cybercriminals, causing significant damage and costs to businesses and government organizations.

How Ransomware Works

Ransomware uses what is known as asymmetric encryption. Asymmetric encryption is cryptography that uses a pair of keys for the encryption and decryption of files. The public-private key pair is generated by the attacker individually for the victim, with the private key decrypting the files stored on the attacker’s server.

Attackers only give the victim the private key after paying the ransom, although as recent ransomware campaigns have shown, this is not always the case. Without access to the private key, it is almost impossible to decrypt files stored for ransom.

There are many variations of ransomware. Ransomware, along with other malware, is often distributed via spam email campaigns or through targeted attacks. The malware requires attack vectors to establish its presence at the endpoint. Once created, the malware remains on the system until the task is complete.

After successfully completing an exploit, the ransomware crashes and runs a malicious binary on the infected system. This binary then locates and encrypts valuable files like Microsoft Word documents, images, databases, and so on.

Ransomware can also exploit the system and network vulnerabilities to spread to other systems and potentially entire organizations.

After the files are encrypted, the ransomware asks the user to pay a ransom within 24-48 hours to decrypt the files or they are lost forever. If no backup is available or the archive is encrypted, the victim will have to pay a ransom to recover personal files.

Punishment for Ransomware Offenders

The punishment for convicting crimes under the Federal Computer Fraud and Misuse Act can be severe. An offender could face a fine of up to 10 years in prison or both for the first crime. The penalty for the second crime carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine, or both.


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