The file-locking malware known as ransomware is the biggest security threat this year. Researchers are saying that the total damage cost wrought by this terrible strain of malicious software may reach $1 billion in 2016 alone.
Due to its profitability, ransomware is becoming the common cybercriminal's favorite method of attack - it's easy to mass deploy, payoffs can be substantial, and with the use of Bitcoin as currency, payment exchanges can be virtually anonymous.
Ransomware is also constantly evolving, making it harder for security software to detect. With ever-changing infection tactics, newer encryption methods and decryption keys, it is a never-ending cat-and-mouse game as security companies and law enforcement agencies try to keep up with all the emerging ransomware variants being pumped out every day.
Now, one of these newly discovered variants is especially more aggressive than most. This new type won't even give you time to think - it threatens to delete your files if you don't pay the ransom within 96 hours.
Dubbed "MarsJoke" by security researchers from Proofpoint, it is said to be targeting government and educational institutions in the U.S. for now but it could expand to include large/small businesses and individuals in the near future. The name comes from a string contained within the malware's code: "HelloWorldItsJokeFromMars."