NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A security scare impacting thousands of people every day.
Its called “ransonware”, hijackers hack into your computer to hold your personal photos and files hostage.
“Ransomware literally has exploded. It’s such an easy money maker for hackers,” said Brad Garrett, ABC News Consultant and former FBI Agent.
As many as 4,000 victims are now being hit every day according to Norton security response.
The victims range from school districts, to hospitals, police departments, and individuals.
The hackers get in when a user clicks on a link or opens and infected attachment.
Cyber-criminals are then able to encrypt their files so victims can no longer access them.
Then, the criminals often insist on payment in online currency called bitcoin, because its virtually impossible to trace.
Victims are then forced to cough up anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
In most cases it’s the only way to get the irreplaceable files back.
One FBI officials says the “ransomware” is that good, they often advise people to just pay the ransom.
Cyber-security experts warn against that.
“It only gives money to criminals. And it funds them to go out and go after additional people,” said Kevin Haley, Director, Norton Security Response.
Prevention may be the key.
Experts say backup your files regularly on an external hardrive.
Make sure your computer has up to date anti-virus software.
And make sure you know what you are clicking on.
“Never click on either a website or an attachment you don’t feel comfortable is legitimate,” said Garrett.