An economic analysis of ransomware and its welfare consequences

J. Hernandez-Castro, A. Cartwright, E. Cartwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


We present in this work an economic analysis of ransomware, a relatively new form of cyber-enabled extortion. We look at how the illegal gains of the criminals will depend on the strategies they use, examining uniform pricing and price discrimination. We also explore the welfare costs to society of such strategies. In addition, we present the results of a pilot survey which demonstrate proof of concept in evaluating the costs of ransomware attacks. We discuss at each stage whether the different strategies we analyse have been encountered already in existing malware, and the likelihood of them being implemented in the future. We hope this work will provide some useful insights for predicting how ransomware may evolve in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number190023
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.


This project has received funding from the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme,under grant agreement no. 700326 (RAMSES project). The authors also want to thank EPSRC for project EP/P011772/1,on the EconoMical, PsycHologicAl and Societal Impact of RanSomware (EMPHASIS), which supported this work


  • Cyber-security
  • Price discrimination
  • Ransom
  • Ransomware
  • Willingness to pay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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  • Economic Analysis of Ransomware

    Hernandez-Castro, J., Cartwright, E. & Stepanova, A., 20 Mar 2017, arXiv.

    Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

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