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.
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.
Scaife is part of the team that has come up with the ransomware solution, which it calls CryptoDrop.
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.