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Long before electronic money existed Young and Yung proposed that electronic money could be extorted through encryption as well, stating that "the virus writer can effectively hold all of the money ransom until half of it is given to him.

Even if the e-money was previously encrypted by the user, it is of no use to the user if it gets encrypted by a cryptovirus". A, Archiveus, Krotten, Cryzip, and May Archive began utilizing more sophisticated RSA encryption schemes, with ever-increasing key-sizes. AG, which was detected in June 2006, was encrypted with a 660-bit RSA public key.

Unlike the previous Gpcode Trojan, Win Lock did not use encryption.

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The scam hit numerous users across Russia and neighboring countries—reportedly earning the group over US$16 million.

In 2011, a ransomware Trojan surfaced that imitated the Windows Product Activation notice, and informed users that a system's Windows installation had to be re-activated due to "[being a] victim of fraud".

In February 2013, a ransomware Trojan based on the Stamp.

EK exploit kit surfaced; the malware was distributed via sites hosted on the project hosting services Source Forge and Git Hub that claimed to offer "fake nude pics" of celebrities.

Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan, entering a system through, for example, a downloaded file or a vulnerability in a network service.

The program then runs a payload, which locks the system in some fashion, or claims to lock the system but does not (e.g., a scareware program).

Payloads may display a fake warning purportedly by an entity such as a law enforcement agency, falsely claiming that the system has been used for illegal activities, contains content such as pornography and "pirated" media.

Payment is virtually always the goal, and the victim is coerced into paying for the ransomware to be removed—which may or may not actually occur—either by supplying a program that can decrypt the files, or by sending an unlock code that undoes the payload's changes.

The Crypto Locker technique was widely copied in the months following, including Crypto Locker 2.0 (though not to be related to Crypto Locker), Crypto Defense (which initially contained a major design flaw that stored the private key on the infected system in a user-retrievable location, due to its use of Windows' built-in encryption APIs), These LNK shortcut files install Locky ransomware by automating infection operations rather than relying on traditional user downloads of WSF files—all of which is made possible by the universal Power Shell Windows application.

Unfortunately, cyber criminals have been able to leverage Power Shell for their attacks for years.

In a recent report, the application was found to be involved in nearly 40% of endpoint security incidents.

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