What is Ransomware?
Ramsomware is malicious software which infects a computer and demands money in return for releasing control of the computer back to the owner along with any data stored on it.
How ransomware works
Much like most malware (malicious software) ransomware gains access to a computer (or mobile phone) using a security vulnerability employing techniques such as computer virus, trojan or worm infection, or by tricking the user into installing it from a web site or as part of the installation of another program.
Once installed it starts to take control of the system disabling security software and other applications designed to detect it's presence and stop it from working.
Some really malicious ransomware even goes as far as encrypting your data making it almost impossible to avoid paying the demand if you want your data back. This is another good reason to remember to backup your data.
Other ransomware will prompt you to purchase software or perform some other online action that benefits the ransomware creator in some way, before releasing control of your computer and data back to you.
Some ransomware never releases control even if you do what it demands.
Ramsomware is one of the most malicious forms of malware out there today, so remember to keep your operating system patched and up to date, install good security software that includes a computer firewall, anti-virus tool and antispyware and anti-malware tools, and always remember to backup your data and take an image backup of your hard drive on occasion, more often if you use your computer daily.
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Article updated: 12th September 2015