Your Money or Your Files?

Would you negotiate with terrorists?

Before you answer that, imagine a message coming up on your computer screen or smart phone that says  your files have been encrypted, and you have to pay a ransom to get them “unlocked.”

Cybercrime has the chilling element of reaching you in a very tangible way.

“Ransomware” hacking, as it is called, can effect personal computers or the entire network of Fortune 500 companies.  Ransom is generally $500 – $700 and is paid in “bit coin”, an online currency.

Following the paying of ransom, a code will be emailed so you can unlock your files, but they might just take their sweet time.

Shared from Yahoo News

Like many hackers’ tools, ransomware can arrive in emails with links or attachments that, when clicked on, unleash software into files. Attacks can also occur when users visit websites; cybercriminals can attach computer code even to well-known sites operated by tech-savvy companies, says technology consultant Greg Miller of CMIT Solutions of Goshen, New York.  Anyone can be hit: individuals, big and small companies, even government agencies.  The Durham, New Hampshire police department was attacked by ransomware in June when an employee clicked on a legitimate looking email. The department’s 20 computers were cleared of the ransomware and files were restored from a backup system. The Swansea, Massachusetts police department meanwhile had to pay a $750 ransom after it was attacked.

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“We certainly are seeing ransomware as a common threat out there,” says FBI Special Agent Thomas Grasso, who is part of the government’s efforts to fight malicious software including ransomware.

Bottom line: back up your files, and be suspicious of unexpected emails and invoices to avoid a cyber “kidnapping”!

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