The business model behind crimeware has changed. In the past, attackers typically profited from their malicious endeavors by stealing identities, or credit card numbers, and selling them on underground markets for a small fee. In recent years, the price for stolen records has plummeted, falling from $25 per record in 2011 to only $6 in 2016.1 This has necessitated new sources of income for cyber attackers, with many of them turning to ransomware due to recent advances in attack distribution, anonymous payments, and the ability to reliably encrypt and decrypt data. Unit 42, the Palo Alto Networks® threat research team, reviews the past, present and future of ransomware in this report, including strategies for preventing this critical threat.

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