When it comes to all the various types of malware out there, none has ever dominated the headlines quite as much as ransomware.

Sure, several individual malware outbreaks have turned into truly global stories over the years.

The LoveBug mass-mailing virus of 2000 springs to mind, which blasted itself into hundreds of millions of mailboxes within a few days; so does CodeRed in 2001, the truly fileless network worm that squeezed itself into a single network packet and spread worldwide literally within minutes.

There was Conficker, a globally widespread botnet attack from 2008 that was programmed to deliver an unknown warhead on April Fool’s Day, but never did. (Conficker remains a sort-of unsolved mystery: no one ever figured out what it was really for.)

And, there was Stuxnet, discovered in 2010 but probably secretively active for years before that, carefully orchestrated to spread via hand-carried USB drives in the hope of making it across security airgaps and into undislosed industrial plantrooms (allegedly Iran’s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz).

But none of these stories, as dramatic and as alarming as they were at the time, ever held the public’s attention as durably or as dramatically as ransomware has done since the early 2010s.