What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a name for a type of virus which locks up the data on your computer and tries to sell it back to you. It uses encryption to lock your files, and then you are blackmailed for the password to get your files back.
2016 has seen a significant increase in so-called “Ransomware” viruses locking up computers and then demanding a ransom in return for the files. These malicious programs have attacked businesses, hospitals and police forces and many others around the world, causing massive disruptions.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
When you have ransomware on your computer, it works silently in the background encrypting your files with a password that you don’t know. Once finished locking up all your files, it hits you with an ultimatum: Pay a ransom to get your files back, or lose access to them forever. Often there is a timer running, waiting for you to pay up. When the clock runs out, the attackers delete the password to unlock your files and you are left with nonsense on your hard drive instead of your files. There is on-going research into repairing data damaged by malware, but it is not always possible.
ANTI RANSOMWARE TIPS
BACKUP YOUR DATA (AS SOON AS POSSIBLE)
Since data recovery isn’t always possible after certain attacks, you should be wary of any files on your computer that you can’t lose, and get them backed up to another location. For many people this is not very much data so an easy way to back these files up is to keep them in Dropbox or Google Drive. If your important files are backed up when ransomware strikes, then you can simply refuse to pay and wipe your computer to start anew.
UPDATE YOUR SOFTWARE, EVERYDAY
Viruses are a big problem for the likes of Apple and Microsoft, and they work hard to patch up the vulnerabilities that these viruses exploit. Keeping your software up to date makes for a safer computer.
Lots more info about ransom where is available over at the No More Ransomware Project.