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Europol Cautions Ransomware Now Top Threat

Europol the international police agency of Europe says in a report that cyber-crime attacks within Europe has ransomware threat in the lead, surpassing Trojan horses and viruses, the conventional ones, during 2015.

The yearly Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment of Europol delves into black-hat hackers' and cyber-criminals' altered methods of launching attacks during the last twelve months. Accordingly, the danger of ransom software is now far greater and the threat undermines other ways of Internet-based burglary, an indication of how fast this malware is drawing favor of underworld actors.

Characteristically, the modus-operandi of ransomware is blackmailing the infected PC-user, encrypting all data-files on his hard drive and then demanding money off him for decrypting the locked files. Usually, the demand payment of the criminals is in Bitcoin digital currency.

Moreover according to Chief Steven Wilson of Europol's Cyber-crime Center, there is more-and-more use of ransomware to target sectors from where more money can be extorted instead of individuals from whom only small amounts can be extorted.

Alongside this type of attack, spear phishing attacks are notable with the hackers increasingly targeting popular politicians, business CEOs, and other high-profile entities.

Government agencies, hospitals as well as police forces worldwide are becoming victims of spear-phishing scams that are mostly proliferated via booby-trapped web-links alternatively file attachments. It is being warned that in these targeted assaults, ransomware is used which is novel and self-propagating, and specifically proliferates devoid of human interaction. Abcnews.go.com posted this, September 28, 2016.

Besides the above trends, data theft and its monetization, more-and-more assaults on ATMs using complex malware, and utilization of end-to-end encryption codes are the other chief online threats, and not to forget the 'dark-net' where crooks ply.

Cyber-crime is also widely prevalent in the critical business sectors such as sharing economy and e-commerce whose websites contain financial data that cyber-crooks seek for stealing.

And while law enforcement agencies caution about terrorist groups employing methods of cyber-crime, Europol states that currently extremist groups are utilizing cyber techniques for carrying out attacks in a limited manner, emphasizing that in terrorism, utilization of the Internet is conventional i.e. for propaganda and recruitment.

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