Listen up, boys and girls, this one's important. When I say piracy, I'm not referring to people downloading stories and music, and not paying for it. I'm talking about capturing all the data on your computer and demanding payment to get it back. Sounds pretty high seas, doesn't it?
Have you heard of cryptolocker malware? If so, feel free to tune out. If not, here's the scoop...the operators of the malware really do hold your files till you pay to get them back. The normal ransom price is $300. If you pay, you're given a decryption key. Then you are given back your files. If not, your files are gone. Pretty scary stuff, huh?
How do they infect your files to begin with?
Like many infections its spread opening infected email attachments. The malware is set up to look like it comes from a legitimate source, such as: using what you think is a tracking device for packages. It's difficult to catch because it changes regularly, making it difficult for your antivirus program to ward it off. It infects everything on your computer: emails, documents, pictures, etc.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Back up your files. And...when opening attachments error on the side of caution. If you're unsure whether its legit or not don't open it.