CrytoLocker is malware cyber criminals use to encrypt the contents of a computer until users pay up.
But that’s only one type of cyber extortion, according to Tim Francis, enterprise cyber lead at Hartford, Conn.-based insurance company Travelers.
Criminals can also threaten to shut down computer systems or erase data, to infect a company with a virus, to publish proprietary information or personally identifiable information of customers or employees, launch a denial-of-service attack, or hold social media accounts hostage.
Criminals can also start the attack first, and refuse to stop until the money is paid.
It’s no longer just a lone disgruntled employee targeting a single company, Francis said. CryptoLocker is just one example of how cyber extortion technology has been commodified, making it accessible to a wider variety of criminals.