Ransomware – the virtual threat that poses a threat to human health
Nowadays, the term “malware” is closely associated with the term “social engineering” which is a technique meant to spark certain feelings for the computer user. Unfortunately, computer viruses and social engineering methods used by cyber criminals typically seek to cause negative feelings and emotions for the target. In most of the cases, it is fear, panic, shock, and sense of urgency.
There is no wonder why cyber security experts say that malware is not only damaging your computer’s system but may be quite a hazard to your own health as well. Numerous examples of unlucky incidents related to virus infections have been recorded through the years, and some of them even end up in death.
Hackers are smart about the ways they choose to extort money from their victims. Just like we previously mentioned, they may use convincing social engineering techniques and scare tactics to achieve their goal. Some victims, unfortunately, take things for granted and can even drive themselves to a heart attack or suicide.
Considering the importance of modern IoT devices, smartphones and computers nowadays, it is not surprising to hear about cyber attacks that target these devices. Ransomware viruses designed for Windows OS (probably the favorite cyber extortion tools used by cyber criminals) do not surprise anyone nowadays.
Today, we already know ransomware versions designed to infect mobile phones or even smart home devices such as thermostats. Can you imagine your thermostat dropping the temperature to a minimum during the winter and refusing to make it higher until you pay an enormous ransom? Sadly, in this modern age, it is not a joke – it is a reality.
Malware causing deaths and health problems – real life examples
Even though the gruesome idea of a suicide because of malware infection does not seem rational, this is exactly what happened a Romanian man named Marcel Dactu over a year ago. Apart from taking his own life, Dactu also killed his son soon after receiving a fake notification claiming that he has been exposed to visiting pornographic websites and now must pay a penalty of around 14.000 GBP just to stay out of prison.
In the suicide note, the man explained that he could not leave his son alone for the 11 years until he serves his sentence and that the path he has chosen was the best solution. What Dactu did not know though is that the message he received was simply a part of a ransomware scam plot.
Sadly, stories like that are not uncommon. Another man, Corrie Santayana (not a real name of the victim) has also met his end due to a heart attack after finding out he has lost $1000 USD to the online scammers. The things started going downhill after Santayana has received a notification informing about the supposedly critical condition of his computer.
The message stated: ‘Windows Heath is Critical! Do not restart! Please contact Microsoft technicians’. After contacting the scammers via the number indicated in the notification, the man was convinced that he needed to purchase a 1000 dollar worth support package to fix this issue. Only a few hours after the money was handed to the criminals, the victim found out he has been scammed. Santayana’s heart did not withstand the terrible news and stopped.
Ransomware viruses and support scams are just a few of the numerous techniques scammers may employ to trick the victims into emptying their bank accounts. Unfortunately, most users are simply unaware that they can be targeted or simply think that it might happen to someone else but not them.
You should inform your family members, parents, children about such hazards and think about a reliable system protection yourself. Trustworthy anti-malware software may be one of the options worth looking into. Also, do not trust everything you see online.
Ransomware disregards any moral norms and considers healthcare sector to be its primary target
No matter how wicked it sounds, ransomware developers know that the most valuable thing in healthcare organizations is time. To be precise, many patients' lives depend on medical equipment controlled by hospital's computers. However, inglorious criminals are ready for everything it takes to extort money – even if it means putting someone's life at risk.
There are numerous cases when ransomware infected entire hospital's computer network and demanded ransom. New Jersey Spine Center, Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford, Kansas Heart Hospital, MedStar Health are only a few medical facilities among all healthcare organizations victimized by ransomware.
While Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles decided to pay $17,000 in exchange for a decryption software. Although the name of the ransomware is unclear, experts guess that it was the infamous Locky ransomware. Although the L.A. hospital received the decryption software, Kansas hospital wasn't so lucky. After paying the demanded ransom, the healthcare organization received a demand to pay the second ransom. The hospital refused to pay up the second time.