Ransomware - A type of malware that blocks access to your data and threatens to publish or delete it unless a certain amount of money is paid.
Ransomware is a particularly nasty kind of virus and can easily catch users off guard. It can be installed without your knowledge if you accidentally visit a malicious website, and sometimes it can even come from websites you trust if they have been hacked. Once your computer has been infected, it becomes very difficult to access your data. Usually your computer will be locked behind a screen demanding payment or that you call a specific number to unlock your data. Sometimes these screens will imitate government or legal organizations, informing you that your computer is being used for illegal activity. Whatever the screen says, the message is fake. It's a scam that's engineered to extort money from you.
If your computer becomes infected with ransomware, don't panic. In most cases, your data can still be recovered and your computer can be fixed. In rare cases, the malware can encrypt your data, making it completely inaccessible. In these cases, there is no way to recover any of your old data, but the computer can still be serviced and shouldn't need replacing. If you get infected, the first step you should take is simply to avoid making any calls or payments that are being asked of you. If you have already called, block the number, and if you have already made payment, get in contact with your credit card company to cancel it. Once you're past that stage, bring the computer to us and we will be able to tell you if the data on it can be recovered or not. After that, we can restore your computer to working condition.