Beginning on May 12, 2017, a new cyberattack has wreaked havoc around the world, infecting over 200,000 machines in 150 countries. The culprit is the so-called WannaCry (a.k.a. WannaCrypt) ransomware and it has affected hospitals, banks, oil companies and other organizations worldwide. Usually contained within email attachments, the malicious software exploits a critical vulnerability in Windows and spreads rapidly across networks, locking away files and demanding payment in Bitcoins to decrypt the data. Fortunately, users can easily protect their machines by installing the latest Windows updates and ensuring their anti-virus software is up to date.
However worrisome the WannaCry attack is, it’s certainly not the only one of its kind. Cryptoviral extortion has been around for quite a while, and such cyberattacks have spiked considerably in the last few years. As a reminder of how important PC security is, let’s take a look into the history of ransomware.
The Ransomware Timeline illustrates the most infamous cryptoviral extortion attacks throughout history, starting from Archiveus, discovered in 2006, to the recent WannaCry malware. While Archiveus was not the first ransomware case ever, it was the first strain to use asymmetric encryption, making it unprecedentedly invasive and difficult to remove. The Trojan encrypted all files in the My Documents folder and demanded victims to make purchases from an online pharmacy to receive the password that would unlock their data.
As can be seen from the timeline, ransomware attacks have increased exponentially since 2011, when an unnamed Trojan was the first to leverage mainstream adoption of anonymous payment systems. Most importantly, according to recent IBM reports, cryptoviral extortion cases spiked 6,000% in 2016 compared to 2015. Considering these facts and the latest WannaCry attack, now it is more important than ever to take precautionary measures and increase PC security.
The Ransomware chronology was created with Office Timeline, a PowerPoint plug-in that allows users to build beautiful charts and other visuals in just a few minutes. The image is free to copy, modify and redistribute and can be easily edited or updated using the free edition of the add-in. For advanced customization requirements or to create professional timelines and Gantt Charts, we recommend using Office Timeline Plus.
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