ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software) distinct from other malware; its defining
characteristic is that it attempts to deny access to a user’s data, usually by encrypting the data with a
key known only to the hacker who deployed the malware, until a ransom is paid. After the user’s data is
encrypted, the ransomware directs the user to pay the ransom to the hacker (usually in a
cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin) in order to receive a decryption key. However, hackers may deploy
ransomware that also destroys or exfiltrates2 data, or ransomware in conjunction with other malware
that does so.  Read more on ransomware from the HHS.gov fact sheet here.