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Next Generation of Ransomware, Might Leak Your Data, Not Destroy It.

Security experts warn of new types of malware that threaten to publish instead of encrypt valuable, confidential information.

 

Right when internet users have learned to be wary of malware that encrypts files and holds them for ransom, security experts are warning that digital extortionists are taking more aggressive steps to get paid.

 

Instead of simply encoding files so that users can’t access them, some blackmailers armed with a new kind of malware called doxware are threatening to leak potentially sensitive files to the public if a ransom isn’t paid, says Chris Ensey, COO of Dunbar Security Solutions.

 

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Ensey predicts that by next year there will be actual data leaks attributed to ransomware, if only to motivate more attack victims to pay the ransom.

 

Previously, security experts advised companies and individual users to make regular backups of important files so they’d be ready to restore them if they were encrypted or damaged by malware. But that’s of less help if malware creators instead threaten to distribute information, potentially exposing companies to liability, or individual users to embarrassment or risk of identity fraud, he says.

 

Ransomware creators have recently gotten more aggressive in other ways, too, according to Segura, sometimes actually permanently deleting files rather than leaving them encrypted if victims don’t quickly pay up. Some malware varieties have also focused their energies on particular classes of files likely to be of interest, such as spreadsheets, and future attackers may well use more sophisticated prices to determine how much ransom to charge.

 

Users looking to stay safe should maintain multiple backups to minimize the risks from disk-encrypting malware and keep sensitive information encrypted or off networked machines altogether. Once files are leaked, it can be difficult or impossible to remove them from the internet.

 

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