I’m sure all of you have heard of worms, Trojans, adware, spyware and viruses, right? Those nasty little bugs are the reason for troublesome computer problems throughout the world. Well, today, I have a new type of attack to add to the list. This type of bug is called ransomware. Ransomware has been around for awhile in the computer world, but it hasn’t really taken off until recently.

So, what is ransomware, you ask?

Well, ransomware is technically a program. It basically takes over your computer and then requires you to pay to get your system back to normal. Usually, it will infect your system through a bad Web site or via a pop up window, but it can also come in through an e-mail attachment or a download. Once your system is infected with the bad software, it will let you know right away. More than likely, you will see a screen come up that tells you what damage will be done to your computer if you don’t pay in time. It will require you to pay in a certain way and in turn, you will be given a code to turn off the software and stop the damage from continuing.

There are a couple well known ransomware programs currently in use around the Web. One is called Ransom.A. That program will tell you it will destroy one file every 30 minutes until the ransom is paid. This program seems very bad, but in reality, it does no damage to your system. It is simply a scare tactic to get you to pay the fee. While this specific ransomware causes no damage to your system, there are several others that truly do what they say. Those programs can cause serious harm to your computer or they simply just embarrass the infected user by popping up pornographic material on their screen.

No matter what the damage, it’s important to protect your computer against these growing threats. The good news is you don’t need to have any additional protection on your system to shield you from ransomware. If you keep your antivirus software up to date and have a good pop up blocker, you will remain safe from these threats. If your system should end up infected with one of these programs, do not panic and do not pay the ransom! It’s best to run a full system scan with your antivirus software instead. The program can then be found and removed. If it’s not removed, your antivirus company should give you a link to a Web site with removal steps. Until next time, stay safe out there, my friends!

~ Gary