Ransomware – what hackers use to encrypt your computer files and demand money in exchange for freeing those contents – is an exploding global problem with few solutions, but a team of University of Florida researchers says it has developed a way to stop it dead in its tracks.
Ransomware attacks have become one of the most urgent problems in the digital world. The FBI issued a warning in May saying the number of attacks has doubled in the past year and is expected to grow even more rapidly this year.
It said it received more than 2,400 complaints last year and estimated losses from such attacks at $24 million last year for individuals and businesses.
A FICS Research team consisting of University of Florida doctoral student Nolen Scaife, professors Patrick Traynor and Kevin Butler, along with colleague Henry Carter at Villanova University lay out the solution in a paper accepted for publication at the IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems and presented June 29 in Nara, Japan.
The answer, they say, lies not in keeping it out of a computer but rather in confronting it once it’s there and, counterintuitively, actually letting it lock up a few files before clamping down on it.
“Our system is more of an early-warning system. It doesn’t prevent the ransomware from starting … it prevents the ransomware from completing its task … so you lose only a couple of pictures or a couple of documents rather than everything that’s on your hard drive, and it relieves you of the burden of having to pay the ransom,” said Nolen Scaife, a UF doctoral student and founding member of UF’s Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research.
“We ran our detector against several hundred ransomware samples that were live,” Scaife said, “and in those case it detected 100 percent of those malware samples and it did so after only a median of 10 files were encrypted.”
And CryptoDrop works seamlessly with antivirus software.
The team currently has a functioning prototype that works with Windows-based systems and is seeking a partner to commercialize it and make it available publicly.
Excerpts from original story authored by Steve Orlando on July 7, 2016. For full article, click HERE.