Security Corner – Ransomware Scams Continue to Rise

Ransomware scams are on the rise, with 2012 seeing an increase in the number, size and scope of scams, according to anti-virus software giant Symantec.

Malware literally holds your PC hostage by locking or disabling it while displaying a demand for payment of a ransom, or what the crooks behind it call a "fine." Often claiming to come from the government or public companies, the message usually tells the victim they have done something wrong and must pay the fine to correct the situation. Paying the fine does not unlock the computer, however. The malware won't leave the PC until it is manually removed.

Symantec reports that the scam has escalated from amateur to professional levels with more and more computers becoming infected by at least 16 different versions of ransomware. There were a reported 68,000 computers affected in one month and an attempted Trojan infection in 500,000 PCs over an 18-day period. Nearly three percent of people affected by ransomware actually pay the ransom, Symantec reports, and well over $5 million a year has been stolen through ransomware.

The good news is: Users are becoming more educated about ransomeware and less apt to fall for the scam. The bad news: That may lead to scammers becoming more sophisticated.

Infected users can click here for a tutorial on how to remove ransomeware malware. To learn how to avoid the scam altogether, click here.

About Dyan James

Dyan has been researching, writing, copyediting, and proofreading articles across a variety of industries since 1998. She further developed her interest and talent for covering technology while working with the guys at DCG Technical Solutions, Inc. Whether writing from scratch, copyediting or simply polishing, Dyan has mastered the art of turning rough copy or a plain idea into an eloquently written piece.