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In today’s digital age, cybercrime poses a significant threat to businesses worldwide. One of the most damaging forms of cybercrime is ransomware, which can result in huge financial losses and reputational damage. Defending against ransomware attacks has become a top priority for security professionals, consuming a substantial amount of time, energy, and budget. This article explores the origins of cybercrime, tracing its evolution from the early days of credential harvesting to the sophisticated ransomware attacks we see today.

The Birth of Cybercrime

To understand the roots of cybercrime, we need to look back to the 1990s, a time that saw two pivotal events: the fall of the Soviet Union and the global adoption of electronic finance. With the shift to electronic finance, money became digital, enabling greater liquidity in the markets. This coincided with a pool of unemployed computer scientists from the Soviet Bloc who harnessed their skills to bypass encryption and exploit vulnerabilities in the banking system. This marked the beginning of a new era of cybercrime.

Initially, cybercrime activities revolved around credential harvesting, involving the collection and sale of personal information. However, over time, cybercriminals evolved, leading to the rise of the most damaging form of cybercrime – ransomware.

The Rise of Ransomware

Ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts victims’ files and demands a ransom for their release, emerged as a significant threat in the late 2000s. Following the global financial crisis of 2008, ransomware attacks started to become more sophisticated and professionalised. Cybercrime cartels, previously small groups of individuals, began modernising their operations and offering ransomware as a service.

Novice cybercriminals could now join these ransomware groups, simply by paying a deposit and receiving the necessary tools and support. This shift allowed for larger-scale attacks and ensured that all aspects of the operation, from negotiations to ransom payments, were handled by experienced criminals. The collaboration between novice and professional cybercriminals has made ransomware attacks more prevalent and damaging than ever before.

State-Sponsored Cybercrime

Alongside the rise of ransomware, another significant aspect of cybercrime is state-sponsored hacking. Some cybercriminal groups operate under the protection or tolerance of certain governments, carrying out attacks on designated targets. These attacks can range from stealing sensitive information to disrupting critical infrastructure.

Notable examples of state-linked ransomware campaigns include the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, the 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist, and the 2017 WannaCry outbreak. These attacks have far-reaching consequences, impacting not only the targeted organisations but also causing geopolitical tensions.

The Cost of Ransomware

The financial impact of ransomware attacks is staggering. According to a survey by cyber security firm Sophos, the median ransom payment made by surveyed businesses in the first half of the year was $400,000. However, 40% of respondents admitted to paying ransoms exceeding $1 million. These payments, coupled with the costs of post-breach cleanup, can lead to significant financial strain for affected organisations.

Cleaning up after a ransomware attack involves various expenses, such as data recovery, hiring specialist teams to ensure systems are secure, and managing the fallout with customers and suppliers. The true cost of a ransomware attack extends far beyond the initial ransom payment.

Businesses are looking to Cyber Security Professionals for help

In the current landscape of escalating cyber threats and the ever-growing prevalence of cybercrime, there has never been a more opportune time to pursue qualifications in cybersecurity. As technology advances, so do the tactics employed by malicious actors, making robust cybersecurity measures a paramount concern for businesses worldwide. The increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks underscore the critical need for skilled professionals who can safeguard sensitive information and systems. 

Companies are acutely aware of the potential risks and financial repercussions associated with data breaches, prompting a surge in demand for cybersecurity consultants. These professionals play a pivotal role in fortifying digital defences, implementing proactive security strategies, and responding effectively to emerging threats. 

By acquiring qualifications in cybersecurity, individuals not only position themselves at the forefront of a rapidly evolving field but also contribute to the collective effort to protect businesses and individuals from the pervasive and evolving cyber threats of the modern era.


The origins of cybercrime can be traced back to the 1990s, with the advent of electronic finance and the rise of unemployed computer scientists. Over time, cybercrime has evolved into a sophisticated and lucrative industry, with ransomware emerging as one of the most damaging forms of attack. 

The collaboration between novice and professional cybercriminals has made ransomware attacks more prevalent and costly. Businesses are investing in robust cybersecurity measures to protect themselves and mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks. Now is the time to get started within Cyber Security and reap the benefits of a lucrative and rewarding career. 

Want to take on Cybercrime yourself?

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