PayPal, the digital payments behemoth, has managed to secure a cyber security patent meant for it to prevent crypto ransomware attacks on its users. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (UPSPTO) came out with a document to that effect on the 16th of April, 2019. The parent is meant for “techniques for ransomware detection and mitigation”.
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The idea behind the patent is to make it simpler to identify as well as tackle ransomwares used by scammer and phishers, so that the users can safely access their files without the fear of being blocked out because of a ransomware being employed.
PayPal’s patent defines ransomware as a form of malware that is capable of encrypting data and deleting the non encrypted versions for users to access. After this, the scammers employing such a ransomware is likely to demand payments via cryptocurrencies from the users for decrypting the files. This is a situation where files and valuable user data can be held hostage by means of malicious software and can pose major problems for users.
The abstract of the patent explains the need for such a solution by mentioning the following:
“An attacker who gains control of a computer system using malicious software (malware) may be able to do anything to the data on the system. One type of malware, sometimes referred to as ransomware, can encrypt the contents of a hard drive or other data repository, preventing those contents from being accessed by their rightful owners. A ransomware attack can be greatly disruptive to an individual or business, and result in loss of data and loss of computer system uptime, impacting overall computing productivity. By detecting that ransomware is operating on a computer (e.g. by correlating between the original data and content in different cache layers), the negative effects of the ransomware may be mitigated or avoided.”
Basically, scammers here try to siphon off crypto (which is more difficult to track down than PayPal or fiat transactions because of their decentralized, distributed nature). Therefore, PayPal plans to nip the problem in its bud itself, preventing the original content from being encrypted or modified in the first place, and protecting it from deletion in case the original copy has indeed been encrypted.