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25 Jul 2017
The psychology of ransomware splash screens

The content of the splash screens which inform a ransomware victim that their computer files have been encrypted is not randomly chosen. The tone, the use of language and other tactics all serve to force victims to pay up.

This is evidenced by British research, writes Security.nl. A researcher at Montfort University in Leicester analyzed 76 ransomware splash screens according tp the use of language, payment and payment types. The use of images and design were also examined.

The hackers were found to use different tactics to elicit payment from victims, including psychological mechanisms working on aspects of fear, urgency, scarcity, authority and the urgency to pay, for example by using a countdown timer. These create emotions and feelings that leverage payment.

This type of research can provide more insight into the success factors of ransomware, and thus into what kind of defence works best against this form of cybercrime. More research is needed in this area, the researcher writes.

Photo © Dan Kamminga/Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0.