The scam starts with malicious attachment like any other scam, as soon as you click of the scammer’s email or instant message or you visit a scammer website that usually lure you with enticing videos or promos, ransomware will lock your computer, usually displaying a screen message that appears to be from a law enforcement agency. Pay us, you’re told, and you’ll get back control of your computer.
Once considered a niche scam, ransomware attacks exploded in 2012, hitting some 70,000 computers per month. About 3 percent of victims pay the ransom fee — thanks, in part, to cyber-criminals increasingly using online payment methods to collect, says cyber-security firm Symantec, which recently published a detailed report on this ruse. “In 2013, attackers will use more professional ransom screens, up the emotional stakes to motivate their victims, and use methods that make it harder to recover once compromised,” predicts Symantec’s Kevin Haley.