Computer Crime Research Center


Hackers take hostages

Date: August 29, 2006
By: Sara Underwood

There's a new threat that can literally take your computer files hostage with hackers demanding a ransom to unlock them.

What do you store on your computer? If you're like Aaron Richardson, it's a lot -- and it’s important. "My resume, word documents, I have spreadsheets with financial data.”

That makes Aaron a target for the newest computer crime -- Ransomware.

"Ransomware is a piece of malicious software that actually gets into a consumer's computer and encrypts and locks all their files,” said Ron Teixeira of the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Locks them up until you agree to pay a ransom! Hackers can infiltrate your system through a fishy e-mail or attachment. But more often, this scheme hits you when you click on an innocent looking, but infected Web site.

"Your files just seem to disappear,” said Internet security expert Joe Stewart. “A couple of new files pop up and then you see a message, just a text file that gives you instructions on how to get your files back. That's the ransom note."
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