Ransomware is malicious software that criminals use to hold your computer or computer files for ransom, demanding payment from you to get them back. Ransomware is becoming an increasingly popular way for criminals to extort money from companies and consumers.
Most recent threats include Cryptolocker, where criminals targeted over 500,000 victims and demanded a substantial fee before they would release the key to unscramble their files. This type of malware has been associated with a variety of other computer infections – trojans, downloaders, spammers, password-stealers and ad-clickers. Ransomware may come on its own (often by email) or by way of a backdoor, downloader or brought along as an additional component and typically targets files you would open with a program (documents, photos, music, video files, etc.).
In 2014 there were 8.8 million ransomware attacks
Here are a few tips to help you protect your PC from ransomware:
- Back up your data regularly.
- Keep all your programs updated. Install new updates and patches as soon as they are released.
- Use System Restore. If you have System Restore enabled on your Windows machine, you might be able to take your system back to a known-clean state.
- Don’t visit suspicious websites.
- Use a reputable security suite.
Do not pay the ransom! Paying the ransom may seem like a realistic response, but it is only encouraging and funding the criminals. Even if the ransom were paid, it does not guarantee you will be given access to your files.