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 The strain of ransomware that was used in many of the most recent attacks is named Sodinokibi. Eric A. Howald Of The Keizertimes, oregonlive, "Keizer officials pay $48k ransom to regain control of city computers," 23 June 2020 Last fall, 22 Texas towns were hit in a coordinated ransomware attack by hackers, one of the largest attacks on municipal governments that the U.S. has seen. Diego Mendoza-moyers, ExpressNews.com, "City approves $4 million cybersecurity hub at Port SA," 19 June 2020 Japanese automaker Honda is in the midst of recovering from a ransomware attack. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "A cyberattack ‘pandemic’ would be devastating—and may be inevitable," 10 June 2020 That’s boosting demand for defense against attacks like ransomware or data theft. Krystof Chamonikolas, Bloomberg.com, "Remote Work Lifts Avast From Floppy Disks to London Blue Chip," 8 June 2020 Meanwhile, VMware Carbon Black Cloud, an endpoint protection service, saw an overall increase in ransomware attacks of 148% between February and March. Grant Gross, Washington Examiner, "While the economy slowed, cyberattacks rose exponentially," 4 June 2020 The anonymity of digital currencies such as Monero also play a key role in the success and persistence of the ransomware. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Ransomware gang is auctioning off victims’ confidential data," 2 June 2020 Last week, ransomware hackers struck a law firm that has an extensive celebrity clientele list. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Security News This Week: Hackers Claim to Have ‘Dirty Laundry’ About Donald Trump," 16 May 2020 The attackers infiltrated Wroten’s network on July 23 at 3:17 p.m. but did not execute the ransomware until 11:10 a.m. on Nov. 10. Kartikay Mehrotra, Bloomberg.com, "Hacks on Louisiana Parishes Hint at Nightmare Election Scenario," 7 May 2020

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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The first known use of ransomware was in 2005

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Last Updated

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ransomware.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ransomware. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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