dreamstime_17203921Ransomware is a type of malware that holds a computer system hostage. There are different types of ransomware, but all of them will prevent you from using your PC normally, and will all ask you to do something before you can use your PC.

Ransomware can target any PC users, whether it’s a home computer, business computers, or servers used by a government agency or healthcare provider.  Ransomware will demand that you pay money (a “ransom”) to get access to your PC or files.   There is no guarantee that paying the fine or doing what the ransomware tells you will give back access to your PC or files.

There are two types of ransomware – lockscreen and encryption, sometimes referred to as cryptovirus.

Lockscreen ransomware shows a full-screen message that prevents you from accessing your PC or files, it says you have to pay money (a “ransom”) to get access to your PC again.

Encryption ransomware changes your files so you can’t open them. It does this by encrypting the files.

Ransomware can:

  • Prevent you from accessing your operating system.
  • Encrypt files so you can’t use them.
  • Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser).

Older versions of ransom usually claim you have done something illegal with your PC, and that you are being fined by a police force or government agency. These claims are false. It is a scare tactic designed to make you pay the money without telling anyone who might be able to restore your PC.  Newer versions encrypt the files on your PC so you can’t access them, and then simply demand money to restore your files.

Ransomware can get on your PC from nearly any source that any other malware (including viruses) can come from. This includes:

  • Visiting unsafe, suspicious, or fake websites.
  • Opening emails and email attachments from people you don’t know, or that you weren’t expecting.
  • Clicking on malicious or bad links in emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media posts, instant messenger chats, like Skype.

It can be very difficult to restore your PC after a ransomware attack – especially if it’s infected by encryption ransomware.  That’s why the best solution to ransomware is to be safe on the Internet and with emails and online chat:

  • Don’t click on a link on a webpage, in an email, or in a chat message unless you absolutely trust the page or sender.

 datastore365 reports in May 2016 that a group of churches in Bristol have become the latest victims of a ransomware attack.

PC Advisor Ransomware – How to tackle extortion attacks in 2016, reports that Ransomware is getting more aggressive. Where users previously faced being locked out of their critical information, now malware writers are threatening to post all accessed data online.

Next: Ransomware Quiz