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Thursday, February 13, 2014

One of the newer threats that computer users find themselves having to look out for online these days is ransomware. Ransomware is a tactic that malicious program writers are using to take advantage of lesser experienced computer users, in hopes of obtaining personal information or money from them. Ransomware is quite the nuisance, but there is definitely life after it.

What is Ransomware?

As stated on 
Microsoft.com, ransomware is a type of malware that quite literally holds a user's computer hostage until he/she agrees to forfeit whatever is being demanded. Ransomware is usually designed to request money, but it has also been known to request other types of personal information.

There are generally two classifications of ransomware with different strategies for gaining a ransom: lock screen ransomware and encryption ransomware. Lock screen ransomware employs the use of a full screen image that stays on the screen and prohibits a user from using his/her computer until the ransom is paid. Encryption ransomware encrypts files on a user's computer, and a ransom is required to decrypt them.

Common Examples

The common form of ransomware that many people see is the "FBI Moneypak" or "FBI Virus." It is a full screen message that is designed to look as though it originated from law enforcement demanding payment for detecting illegal activity on the computer. The malicious software writer will use FBI logos to scare the user into believing the message is actually real. The messages often warn that the user will be forbidden access to their computer and prosecuted if they ignore the message. 

Of course, it is never advised that you pay the ransom demanded from ransomware. Because these messages originate from malicious individuals, there is no promise that your computer will be returned uncompromised if you pay the "fine."

How You Can Defend Yourself

To defend yourself against ransomware and other types of malware, it's a good idea that you get antivirus software. Antivirus software is a great tool to help prevent ransomware from winding up on your computer by live-scanning files before they actually enter your computer. Likewise, antivirus software is a great tool because it can help remove these types of threats once they make their way onto your system.

Taking a look at 
TopTenReviews, it's easy to get a quick breakdown on the best and most effective antivirus software on the market right now. From titles like Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Norton, F-Secure, and AVG, there's something for everyone in terms of protection, control, and customization.

If you can’t afford a paid antivirus program, look into getting a free version. Users of AVG and Avast claim that the free versions are all you need and the paid ones are a waste of money. If you have the money to spend though, why not get the extra protection?

Don't fall victim to ransomware and other types of malware before it's too late. Protect yourself by installing antivirus software on your computer as soon as possible, and remember what ransomware looks like, and how it acts. If it ever appears on your computer, just be sure to ignore it, and never pay the ransom it demands.

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