Ransomware: What is it?

By Becky Clapes, guest blogger

According to the Federal Trade Commission, ransomware is a type of virus that can be downloaded on to your computer and hold your computer “ransom.” The hacker is essentially kidnapping your computer: accessing your photos, documents, personal information and holding it against your will until you pay a lot of money to get it back.

Hackers will encrypt files on your computer, making them impossible to open without an encryption key. The only way to get the key is to pay the hackers hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Some will even delete files from the victim’s computer if payment is not made within the specified time period.

In the past year alone, ransomware incidents have hit an all time high, particularly targeting health care organizations. One particular incident in Southern California took down a hospital’s network for over a week, making it impossible for staff to access their emails and some patient information.

Most ransomware viruses are delivered through email scams (around 91% of all ransomware attacks). The user usually has to click a link in an email which will then download the ransomware to the user’s computer. Another way ransomware can end up on an individual’s computer is through clicking on an infected ad on a website. This method is especially scary because the virus can be attached to an ad on an otherwise trusted website.

For more information on ransomware, see here or here.  And be sure to check back in with us tomorrow for some tips to avoid ransomware attacks.