Ransomware Notes: What are They?

Estimated read time 3 min read

If you are a cybersecurity enthusiast, then you must have heard of ransomware notes. These are the bold, unsettling messages that pop up on victims’ screens during a ransomware attack.

Actual Ransomware note example
Actual Ransomware note example

What’s in a Ransomware Note?

These notes can give you chills. They lay it out straight – your files are locked. Want them back? You’ll need to pay a ransom, often demanded in Bitcoin. Why Bitcoin, you ask? It’s the cybercriminal’s choice because it’s tough to trace, and that’s exactly what they need.

A list of various ransomware notes
A list of various ransomware notes

How Does a Ransomware Note Work?

These notes don’t beat around the bush. They tell you how much to pay, the payment method, and the deadline. They’re not shy to warn that if you try to decrypt your files or miss the deadline, you might lose your files forever.

Can I Reach Out to the Cybercriminals?

Well, surprisingly, the answer is yes. Some ransom notes provide “customer service” details. It’s here that victims can ask for more guidance or negotiate the ransom amount.

Will I Get My Files Back If I Pay?

It’s a risky gamble. Some victims pay and end up with nothing. Others pay and then face demands for even more money. So, always consider reaching out to a cybersecurity pro for advice.

In a nutshell, ransomware notes are the cybercriminal’s loudspeaker. They ensure victims understand the sticky situation they’re in, the steps to potentially get out of it, and the steep consequences if they don’t play ball.

What Do They Look Like? A Visual Guide to Ransomware Notes

If you’ve never seen a ransomware note, it might be hard to imagine what one looks like. Typically, they’re simple yet threatening text messages that show up on a victim’s screen. However, the design, tone, and content can vary widely between different types of ransomware.

Ransomware notes can be as straightforward as a plain text file dropped into a folder with encrypted files. Others might hijack your entire screen with a full-page warning, complete with sinister imagery and alarming countdown timers.

Some notes are loaded with technical jargon, while others aim for simplicity. Some seem almost polite, while others adopt a more confrontational tone. Despite these differences, they all serve the same purpose – to tell victims that their files are locked and that they’ll need to pay to get them back.

Curious to see what they look like in the wild? Visit this GitHub repository full of real-world ransomware notes.

Reza Rafati https://cyberwarzone.com

Reza Rafati, based in the Netherlands, is the founder of Cyberwarzone.com. An industry professional providing insightful commentary on infosec, cybercrime, cyberwar, and threat intelligence, Reza dedicates his work to bolster digital defenses and promote cyber awareness.

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