ran·​som·​ware | \ ˈran(t)-səm-ˌwer How to pronounce ransomware (audio) \

Definition of ransomware

: malware that requires the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files In September of 2013, security for small accounting offices changed forever with the appearance of a new class of threats called ransomware. … you open a file attached to an innocent-looking e-mail, and the program encrypts key files and drives so they cannot be accessed. The files are locked until you pay a ransom.— Dave Mcclure With ransomware, a hacker slips into a system, then puts encryption controls in place that locks users out. The hackers then demand money to "unlock" the data.— Elizabeth Millard Today's ransomware scammers often demand payment in bitcoin because the digital currency is easy to use, fast and provides a heightened anonymity for the scammers, according to the FBI warning.— Susan Tompor

Examples of ransomware in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In the past month alone, at least three Florida cities have been victims of ransomware attacks, after intrusions on larger cities such as Atlanta, Dallas and Baltimore. Frances Robles, New York Times, "A City Paid a Hefty Ransom to Hackers. But Its Pains Are Far From Over.," 7 July 2019 There have been more than 170 ransomware attacks on U.S. state and local governments since November 2013, according to the technology company Recorded Future. Kristin Lam, USA TODAY, "Baltimore won't pay hackers' ransom, sets aside $10M in emergency funding to recover from cyberattack," 27 June 2019 So the city wasn't exactly well-positioned to deal with a ransomware attack. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "A tale of two cities: Why ransomware will just get worse," 21 June 2019 But the agency told the AP that 1,493 ransomware attacks were reported in 2018. Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, "Florida city will pay hackers $600,000 to get its computer systems back," 20 June 2019 But the agency told The Post that 1,493 ransomware attacks were reported in 2018. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Florida city will pay hackers $600K to get computer system back," 20 June 2019 Maryland Baltimore: The city and federal authorities are investigating whether documents posted online are connected to a ransomware attack that has hobbled the city’s computer network. USA TODAY, "Renters revolt, troublesome bras, deer in the john: News from around our 50 states," 5 June 2019 A month later, EternalBlue was folded into WannaCry, a quick-spreading ransomware worm that paralyzed hospitals, shipping companies, and train stations around the globe. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Mass router hack exposes millions of devices to potent NSA exploit," 29 Nov. 2018 In 2016, a ransomware attack on San Francisco’s transit system resulted in officials shutting down ticketing machines, allowing free rides for much of a weekend. Michael Balsamo, The Seattle Times, "APNewsBreak: Schumer calls for probe of Chinese rail tech," 20 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ransomware.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ransomware

2005, in the meaning defined above

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ransom theory





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Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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The first known use of ransomware was in 2005

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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