Newsy / Evan Thomas

Ransomware Makes It Easy For Cybercriminals To Take Your Money

Lately, this malware has been putting more cash in digital thieves' pockets.

By Leah Becerra | May 14, 2016

Here's a question: What is ransomware?

Well, its name gives a pretty big hint: It's malware that can lock users out of their devices or files while demanding money — usually Bitcoin — to unlock them.

There are two main strains of ransomware: locker ransomware and crypto ransomware. The locker type actually locks users out of their devices, while the crypto version encrypts valuable files stored on devices.

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This type of malware isn't new, but it’s becoming more of a problem since it's such an efficient way for cybercriminals to make money. The target for this particular scheme can be both individuals and businesses — even the U.S. government.

You can get ransomware from questionable emails (by opening attachments) or from websites that have been compromised. That's why your best bet for protecting yourself is to delete emails from senders you don't recognize and stay away from suspicious sites.

Having an up-to-date antivirus program scanning your machine and using a pop-up blocker on sites you've never visited can also cut down on your chances of getting ransomed.

Since ransomware's goal is to separate you from your data, another way to prepare yourself for an attack is to simply back up your devices. That way, the threat of losing data isn't as big of a deal.

This video includes images from Edward Boatman / CC BY 3.0.

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