Ransomware is a threat on your computer that takes your computer hostage and says you have to pay money to get access to your computer back. The threats have been around for a few years, but in 2013 there were a lot of people who had these infections (before 2013, I never saw one).
The first notable Ransomware virus I’ve seen was the FBI virus. According to most of my customers, The FBI Virus will pop up on your screen, claiming to be the FBI, use your webcam and take a picture of you, and say you violated a law and you need to pay a $300 fine. This will scare a lot of computer users into paying, because they don’t want to get in trouble with the FBI.
There are a lot similar to the FBI Virus, such as one that will imitate a virus scanner and claim that your system is infected. The scanner will tell you that you have a lot of infections and to pay X amount of dollars to remove the threats.
The scariest ransomware I’ve heard of is the Cryptolocker Virus, which will infect your system and encrypt all of your data (anything on your hard drive that ends in .doc, .jpg, .mp3, or anything that is a personal file or document). Like others, it requires $300 in a moneypack to decrypt the data. Because of the length of the key, there is no way that anyone can recover the data without paying the $300 and getting the decryption key from them at the time of this writing. The virus will also scan network drives and removable drives. So if you have a USB Hard Drive, Flash Drive, or network storage, those files are at risk as well.
This reinforces the fact that you need a backup for your data. Historically, if you got an infection, it would be very likely that your data could be restored. With Cryptolocker, and many others likely to come, your data is now at risk. Getting a backup solution is always recommended by Computer Technicians, but with the Cryptolocker Virus, it is now more encouraged than ever to get it done.