Ransomware attracts FTC attention

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host several panel discussions on ransomware next month to highlight the seriousness of the crime wave and offer businesses and consumers ideas to avoid becoming victims.

The ransomware focus for the Sept. 7 event -- the first of three by the FTC on technology issues -- was announced earlier this year. But on Monday the agency listed the government officials and business representatives who will participate.

Among the latter will be executives and experts from companies such as Cylance, PhishLabs and Symantec. Officials from the FTC and the FBI will also take part.

Three panel discussions will provide an overview of ransomware's current state, offer defensive tactics and cover recommendations for victims.

Ransomware is a category of malware that, once installed on a personal or business computer, encrypts select files or entire drives, then demands payment for a key to decrypt the locked data. It often worms its way onto PCs using bogus emails that tempt recipients into opening attachments or steering for a malicious or compromised website.

Although criminals initially aimed at consumers, they have increasingly targeted businesses. One recent survey said that nearly half of U.S. businesses had been targeted by ransomware attacks in the last 12 months; another noted that corporate victims of encryption extortion had ballooned six-fold in one year.

The FTC's panel discussions will begin at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) Sept. 7, and will be webcast from the agency's site.

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