If you have been keeping up with the news, you'll be familiar with the term ransomware - the new cyber bandit that's been wreaking havoc in town. Because such crypto-ransomware promises quick returns, many cyber criminals have hopped on the bandwagon. Some of them have even taken it upon themselves to develop more "creative" ways to pressure their victims to pay up. JIGSAW is one such example of the newest malware conceived by the hackers – not only does it encrypt your files, it also deletes them if you take too long to pay the ransom.
Named after the antagonist of horror movie franchise Saw, JIGSAW was discovered in April this year, and its functions bear many parallels to the movie. In the same way the notorious serial killer abducted people and played deadly games with his victims in the movie, the hackers behind the JIGSAW malware abduct information from unknowing victims. The message even comes with an accompanying image of Saw from the movie. Here is an example of what the warning message may look like:
What sets it apart from other ransomware is that JIGSAW does not extort a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. Instead, the malware threatens to delete your files incrementally. For instance, the first warning message might demand $20 in bitcoin to be paid within an hour. The clock begins counting down and if the victim does not comply within the specified time limit, one file is deleted and the clock resets. This time, the ransom would have been raised, and the number of files at stake would have increased exponentially. If no payment is not made within 72 hours, all the encrypted files will be deleted. Forcibly rebooting your computer is not advisable, as it will only lead to the same outcome (spoiler alert: the hackers delete all of your files).
While being hacked by the JIGSAW malware is truly one abhorrent situation to be stuck in, there is (thankfully) a silver lining. Victims should take action swiftly by approaching Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs) for professional help and data salvage. Once your device is restored to normalcy, do cultivate the good habit of backing up your data, and avoid opening suspicious files and attachments. Lastly, it is strongly encouraged to put in place stronger security measures to ensure your devices are not compromised again.
In today's data-driven world, the prospect of having your files deleted might be even scarier than Jigsaw himself coming after them... especially if the information is important, confidential data. So be sure to stay safe, and keep your devices secure!