The use of crypto-ransomware – a specific type of malware that encrypts files on the victim’s computer until a ransom is paid – is on the rise. In 2022 alone, ​​organisations globally detected 493.33 million ransomware attacks. Below are some of the most well-known examples of crypto-ransomware.

1. WannaCry

Also known as WannaCrypt, WCry, Wana Decrypt0r 2.0, WannaCrypt0r 2.0 or Wanna Decryptor, this was initially launched in 2017, targeting computers running outdated versions of the Microsoft Windows operating systems. Overall, it has affected around 200,000 computers across 150 countries, including within companies such as Nissan, Telefonica, FedEx and the NHS. 

2. CryptoLocker

This used a trojan that targeted computers using Microsoft Windows. It spread via infected emails and encrypted certain types of files. The ransom was demanded in Bitcoin, however there was no guarantee that the encrypted files would be released after paying the ransom. It was first used in 2013 and was eventually taken down in 2014, but it is believed that the hackers behind CryptoLocker successfully extorted a total of around $3 million.

3. Petya/ NotPetya

First discovered in 2016, this crypto-ransomware infects the computer’s master boot record, overwrites the Windows bootloader and triggers a restart. Early versions of this malware were disguised as a PDF in an email attachment. In 2017, a new strain of the malware was detected and named ‘NotPetya’ as it was very different to the original malware and was designed to spread quickly. It was able to infect major international organisations, including the advertising agency, WPP, Maersk Line, Rosneft and Mondelez International.

4. Bad Rabbit

This crypto-ransomware was first discovered in 2017 and was very similar to WannaCry and Petya in that it encrypted files and requested a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin before decryption. It infected computers through a bogus update to Adobe Flash and was able to spread across multiple countries by piggybacking corporate network structures. BadRabbit affected agencies such as Interfax, Odesa International Airport, Kyiv Metro, and the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine

Secure your systems

Given many of these crypto-ransomware were able to spread via vulnerabilities in computer operating systems, it demonstrates how important it is to always update your device’s software when updates are available as they often contain important patches to these security flaws. Additionally, it’s crucial to regularly back up your data on a cloud service or on separate hardware, to ensure you can still access your files in case of a ransomware attack.