The Sci-Files – 05/03/2020 – Pranshu Bajpai – The Menace of Cryptographic Ransomware

On this week’s The Sci-Files, your hosts Chelsie and Danny interview Pranshu Bajpai. Pranshu is a final year Ph.D. candidate researching information security in the Security Research Lab headed by Dr. Richard Enbody in the MSU Department of Computer Science and Engineering. His research interests lie in computer and network security, malware analysis, digital forensics, and cybercrimes. A special kind of malware, called ransomware, caught his attention during the early years of his Ph.D. due to its unique modus operandi and impact. Today, ransomware has proliferated to impact individuals and organizations alike and is considered the top threat to cybersecurity.

 Ransomware is malicious software written for the purpose of extracting ransom from the infected user. This is achieved by locking the user’s files with a key using a standard encryption algorithm (the lock). The user is then shown a ransom note that demands that the ransom be paid using cryptocurrencies (e.g. bitcoin) online. If the ransom is paid, the attackers can release the key and allow the user to regain access to their files. Ransom demands start with $300 per user and have now increased to hundreds of thousands of dollars as attackers carefully target organizations for maximum gain.

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