Foreign hackers attempt to encrypt the hard drives of thousands of American computer users daily in an attempt to extort ransom payments for decryption, cybersecurity experts said yesterday, McClatchy Newspapers reports. “We’re looking at over 4,000 attacks a day,” Bob Gregg of ID Experts, a Portland, Or, firm that offers data breach protection, told a cybersecurity summit. Among targets of the extortionists are police departments, law firms, retailers, hospitals, and individual computer users, said Jeffrey Coburn, chief of the major cybercrimes unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
If an individual or company adopts minimal security measures, it can thwart the criminal hacker, who does not want the hassle of overcoming barriers to making ransom demands, Coburn said. The size of ransom demands varies, but Coburn said he’d seen one for $47,000. “These guys will negotiate, probably not much but they will negotiate,” Coburn said. “They want the quick turnaround. … It’s financially motivated.” The vast majority of those behind the ransomware attacks are overseas, experts said.