Hacker Tactic: Holding Data Hostage

The perpetual cat-and-mouse game between computer hackers and their targets is getting nastier. Cybercriminals are getting better at circumventing firewalls and antivirus programs. More of them are resorting to ransomware, which encrypts computer data and holds it hostage until a fee is paid. Some hackers plant virus-loaded ads on legitimate websites, enabling them to remotely wipe a hard drive clean or cause it to overheat. Meanwhile, companies are being routinely targeted by attacks sponsored by the governments of Iran and China. Even small start-ups are suffering from denial-of-service extortion attacks, in which hackers threaten to disable their websites unless money is paid.



By IAN URBINA

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