The latest spin on a ransom note isn’t composed of letters clipped out of a newspaper. Increasingly, criminals are unleashing brash attacks on your PC and its data through a type of malicious software called ransomware.
It’s exasperating enough when you need your computer repaired due to sluggish performance because of a virus, but what if the virus installs embarrassing pornography on your screen or encrypts your data so you can’t read it? Ransomware attacks often use these tactics to demand you pay a ransom to remove the pornography or to access your files.
According to computer repair experts we speak with, there’s more and more evidence that ransomware is going on.
The US FBI recently issued an alert about the broader category of rogueware, which include ransomware and fake antivirus scareware scams. According to the FBI, criminals are netting an estimated $150 million a year through these scams.
Ransomware works by duping you into clicking on an infected popup advertisement or after you visit an infected website. However, instead of just trying to trick you into buying fake antivirus software, the bad guys hold your computer hostage and attempt to extort payment.
In some instances, ads for pornographic websites appear on your screen each time you try to click on a Web page. The ads cover a portion of the page you’re trying to view. One ransomware attack puts time pressure on the victim, stating that a piece of your data will be destroyed every 30 minutes if you don’t pay up. Another attack attempts to force you to purchase a program to de-encrypt your data.
As with other attacks, you can work to avoid ransomware, according to computer repair experts:
1. Use reputable antivirus software and a firewall.
2. Back up your data often.
3. Enable your popup blocker.
4. Exercise caution. Don’t click on links inside emails, and avoid suspicious websites.
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