Ransomware becoming more common in 2016

Ransom notes may seem like something out of the movies, but a growing number of people are getting them on their computer.

They look like this: Give me your money or you’ll never see what’s on your computer again. It’s called ransomware, and over the last 12 months, the crime has increased over 600 percent.

The bad guys will install malware on your computer, encrypt or lock everything that’s on it, and demand you pay a ransom to get it back. Because your bank account information, files, photos and music is stored there, you’re basically at their mercy.

"Once it gets onto your computer, we do not have the technology to crack it and get your information back," FBI Special Agent Scott Augenbaum says. 

All of 2015, there were around 25 million cases of ransomware. In just the first 3 months of 2016, the number exploded to 209 million.

Why? Because it works. And the bad guys always get away with it. New malware comes out every week, slipping by anti-malware programs.

By the time those security companies find solutions, another ransomware surfaces. The only way to reduce your risk is to think before you click

"It’s very important when you get these emails from people, even if you do know them, and there’s a link in the email or an attachment, maybe coming from the IRS, think before you click," Augenbaum says.

The ransom often ranges from just under $100 to over $1,000 dollars, payable in bitcoin, so the hackers can’t be tracked. The good news, if there is any, is that in most cases, people do get their computer and information back —but only if they pay the hefty ransom. So be careful out there.

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