Computer Crime Research Center


Taking computer information "hostage"

Date: July 12, 2006

Currently there are some 694-million people worldwide, 152-million right here in the United States that use the internet. Each of those people is at risk of having their personal information held hostage.

Computer user Aaron Richardson stores everything, from pictures to files, on his computer. “My resumeā€¦ word documents. I have spreadsheets that have financial data, music files, and I save some email as well."

That makes him the perfect target for the latest computer crime.

Ron Teixeira, with the National Cyber Security Alliance, says the crime involves something called ‘ransomware’.

"Ransomware is a piece of malicious software that actually gets into a consumer's computer and encrypts and locks all their files," Teixeira said.

The files are locked up until the victim agrees to pay a ransom. Hackers infiltrate personal systems through a phishy e-mail or attachment, but most often, the scheme hits when someone clicks on an infected website.

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