More than 4,000 Brits have had their computers infected with ransomware this year, with over £4.5m paid out to cyber criminals, according to Action Fraud.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files of infected PCs before demanding an extortionate payment for the encryption key needed to recover data. The malware typically arrives in the form of malicious email attachments prospective marks are encouraged to open or through exploit kits that exploit software vulnerabilities to push malware onto the PCs of visiting surfers.
Representatives of the UK's national fraud and cyber reporting centre told the BBC that it was fighting the growing scam by both working with the antivirus industry and by taking down the domains, servers and networks of cybercriminals.
Paul Mitchell, from FixMeStick, a company that helps individuals and companies remove viruses and malware, warned that ransomware poses a potentially devastating threat to both companies and individual users alike.
A recent multi-country study by security software firm Malwarebytes found that nearly 40 per cent of businesses had experienced a ransomware attack in the previous year. Of these victims, more than a third had lost revenue and 20 per cent had to stop business completely. ®