The alarming ease of launching ransomware attacks like WannaCry

Ransomware is malicious software deployed by hackers to take over computer systems and then demand ransom in exchange for relinquishing control of victims’ computers. The WannaCry attack in May was a large-scale example of this type of attack, in which 230,000 computers in 150 countries were infected by hackers demanding payment in Bitcoin. Damages were estimated to be as high as $4 billion.

What’s particularly alarming is that it’s neither expensive nor technically complex to launch a ransomware attack. Hackers can purchase the software they need from websites on the Dark Web, where do-it-yourself ransomware kits range in price from $0.50 to $3,000—with the median price at just $10.50. Which means that for the price of a really good sandwich, a hacker can wreak billions of dollars in damage to vulnerable computer systems.

The next time you get annoyed at yet another “update your software” notification, remember that keeping your devices patched and up-to-date is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cyber attackers.

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