Ransomware stops you from using your PC.  It holds your PC or files for ransom.  There are different ways that this is spread.  It may be attached as a file or link in an email or instant messenger chat.  It can infect you via a drive by installation which is when you visit a website that was compromised by ransomware.  Or you might have downloaded a program or app which was pre-infected. All of these methods are things that can affect each and every one of us, which is why you need to take more care when you're online, whether you're checking email or downloading files.
There are different types of ransomware. However, all of them will prevent you from using your PC normally, and they will all ask you to do something before you can use your PC.
They can:
  • Prevent you from accessing Windows.
  • Encrypt files so you can't use them.
  • Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser).
They will demand that you do something to get access to your PC or files.
  • Demand you pay money.
  • Make you complete surveys.
Malware authors often use tricks to try to convince you to download malicious files. This can be an email with a file attached that tells you it is a receipt for a delivery, a tax refund, or an invoice for a ticket. It might say you have to open the attachment to get the items delivered to you, or to get money.  If you do open the attachment, you'll end up installing malware on your PC.
Sometimes a malicious email will be easy to spot – it could have bad spelling and grammar, or come from an email address you've never seen before. However, these emails can also look like they come from a legitimate business or someone you know. Some malware can hack email accounts and use them to send malicious spam to any contacts they find.
To prevent your PC from being infected it's a good idea to consider the following:
  • If you aren't sure who sent you the email - or something doesn't look quite right - don't open it
  • If an email says you have to update your details, don't click on the link in the email
  • Don't open an attachment to an email that you weren't expecting, or that was sent by someone you don't know.

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