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The AIDS Information Trojan attack did have one hallmark of success: it took advantage of a wider environmental opportunity, namely the widespread concern around HIV/AIDS at that
time. Since then, cyber criminals have continued to take advantage of developments in both technology and wider society to evolve and finesse their ransomware attacks, including:
1. The rise of free email services like AOL and Yahoo: These services enabled hackers to create unlimited, untraceable email addresses for the first time, leading to the start of large scale spam campaigns used to spread ransomware.
2. The move from dial-up to ADSL connections , which enabled more people to use the internet, and for longer periods of time, gave the crooks a larger target area for their attacks.
3. Geo-targeting abilities allowed cyber criminals to focus their attacks on a particular country/ region. Geo-targeting increased success rates by enabling attackers to exploit local hot topics in email attacks while also customizing the language for their audience.
4. Prepaid credit cards gave the crooks an accessible, anonymous way for people to pay ransom demands.
5. The availability of cryptocurrencies , particularly Bitcoin, gave criminals another reliable and accessible way to get payments.
As a result of exploiting these (and other) opportunities, by 2010 cyber criminals had solved the three main challenges facing ransomware, enabling it to become a viable commercial business.