ransomware

noun ran·som·ware \ ˈran(t)-səm-ˌwer \
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

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

Recent Examples of ransomware from the Web

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.

First Known Use of ransomware

2005


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