File-Encrypting Ransomware is Malware of an Especially Dangerous Kind

There are many kinds of useful, helpful software. From business-oriented productivity apps that help companies make millions to the many programs that ease everyday life, software tends to have a great deal to offer, in general. While the vast majority of software available today is designed to deliver value to those who use it, not every program is created with such positive goals in mind. Some kinds of software, in fact, are meant to do harm to the devices upon which they are installed and executed. Known broadly in the industry as “malware,” these malicious pieces of software often succeed at doing quite a bit of damage.

In the past, malware could be counted upon to act in relatively straightforward ways. One common malware tactic was to annoy users as much as possible by throwing up messages that would interrupt the normal usage of a computer. In other cases, malware authors chose to have their creations lie low, calling upon them to gain control over computers and other devices only when necessary. That basic approach has enabled the creation of vast networks of compromised computers that can be used to attack others whenever those in control give the order.

Beginning a few years back, a brand-new kind of threat known as “ransomware” emerged. Infecting computers and other devices and then encrypting the files and data they contain, this style of malicious software operates much like real-world hostage takers. By demanding a ransom in exchange for the safe decryption and return of the files, ransomware has become the basis of a profitable new industry for criminals.

From the broadest point of view, ransomware is malware just like any other, with normally helpful, useful software being turned into something else entirely. Compared to many other kinds of malware, though, ransomware demands an even more focused and determined response. Because waiting too long to deal with the problem might mean that the deadline passes for good, making sure to get help as soon as possible should always be the top priority. While the vast majority of software extant in the world today is useful, helpful, and valuable, recognizing what to do when a program of another kind intrudes will always be worthwhile.