Ransom War

How Cyber Crime Became a Threat to National Security

February 2025 9781911723912 256 pp
Forthcoming Pre-order
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


Ransom War delves into the alarming rise of ransomware, a type of malicious software that prevents users from accessing their systems or data. Victims are coerced into paying ransoms to regain access or to prevent the release of sensitive information.

The issue presents formidable challenges to national security. For instance, in May 2022, a series of devastating ransomware attacks prompted the President of Costa Rica to declare a national emergency, stating that the country was in a ‘state of war.’

Ransomware also imposes severe hardship on individuals, often impacting the most vulnerable the hardest. One chilling example took place in March 2023 when hackers targeted Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pennsylvania. By stealing and encrypting their data, the cyber criminals attempted to extort a payment. When the healthcare organisation refused to yield, the hackers resorted to a despicable act by leaking personal data and private photographs of topless female breast cancer patients.


Dr. Max Smeets is a leading expert in the field of cyber conflict, cyber risk, and ransomware. His latest book, Ransom War: How Cyber Crime Became a Threat to National Security, examines the escalating threat of ransomware. He is also the author of No Shortcuts: Why States Struggle to Develop a Military Cyber Force, co-editor of Deter, Disrupt or Deceive: Assessing Cyber Conflict as an Intelligence Contest, and Cyberspace and Instability. He has held academic and fellowship positions at ETH Zurich Center for Security Studies, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Stanford University CISAC, University of Oxford, New America, Columbia University SIPA, Sciences Po CERI, and NATO CCD COE. He co-leads the European Cyber Conflict Research Incubator and the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative, and is Managing Editor of Binding Hook.

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