What’s Next for Ransomware? Look to the Past

Those who use ransomware to commit cybercrime are always looking for new ways to deploy the attack in order to keep it profitable. So, what’s next? A ransomware expert says that new tactics have their roots in world history.

Taylor Armerding writes, “Ransomware expert Andrew Hay has some advice: If you want to know how to avoid it now and in the future, it helps to study the past.

“In that spirit, Hay, cofounder and CTO at LEO Cyber Security, provided a detailed historical landscape of K&R (kidnap and ransom) in his talk titled ‘The Not-so-Probable Future of Ransomware’ at SOURCE Boston 2017 on Wednesday.

“While ransomware holds information rather than people hostage, Hay said the evolution of tactics in the online world, ‘parallel traditional extortion rackets.’

“He noted that it dates at least back to biblical times—one version of it was the ‘kidnapping’ of Hebrews to Babylon so they could be enslaved.

“But, as is the case today, those who engaged in K&R balanced risk with reward. There was more risk, but much greater reward in kidnapping someone rich or famous, since their families would have plenty of money to pay ransoms.

“It was done in some cases to finance wars and conquests. In others, it was done in the name of religion—if the victim converted, he or she would be set free. In others, an exchange of hostages was seen as a guarantee of treaties and agreements.

“In more recent times, Hay said, it has been used by terrorists and criminal organizations to make political statements or to raise money for their causes.”

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