What Is Ransomware?

You may have heard the word ransomware in the news. What is ransomware? How could ransomware affect you?

Imagine that you are doing some work or playing a game on your computer. The computer stops working. You get a message from someone who says that they will make your computer work again. But you must pay them to fix it. This is how ransomware works. But ransomware can affect a whole company.

Computer hackers find a weak spot in a company’s computer system. Then they steal data (information) or lock files. The criminals will ask for money to fix the system. The money is called a ransom.

Many companies have been affected by ransomware attacks in the past few years. A large oil pipeline, the world’s largest meatpacker, and the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department have all been attacked. So have hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations.

What problems do these cyber attacks cause? They create shortages of important materials and increase the cost of goods and services. Companies lose money when they pay the ransom.

How can you avoid ransomware? Be sure your computer system is up-to-date. Don’t open email from people that you don’t know, and don’t install software unless you know exactly what it does. Back up your files, too. If your system is attacked, you will have your files.

What Do You Think? A friend asks you, “How does ransomware work?” What will you say? Why do you think ransomware is such a big problem?

Photo Credit: Zephyr_p/Shutterstock