Does paying a ransom sound like something from out of a movie? People may tend to associate ransoms with people being kidnapped. However, the threat of ransom malware, or ransomware, is a real one ravaging the web today.\n\nRansomware is any dangerous virus which can attack and encrypt the files on a PC or within [an entire network](https://www.zdnet.com/article/ransomware-an-executive-guide-to-one-of-the-biggest-menaces-on-the-web/), transcoding the files so that they become inaccessible to the creators. At this point in the process, the victim knows something has happened, and the cybercriminal demands a ransom for allowing the victim access to his lost files which are being held hostage by the user of the malware.\n\nOnce hacked, the odds for the victim reobtaining control of his files and/or device without paying the cybercrook are not too good. The dilemma is overly troublesome since there is no certainty that the cybercriminal will return the control of the files back over to the rightful owner. There’s also no guarantee that the cybercriminal will not decide to blackmail the victim as well. It is possible an IT professional may provide some assistance and hopefully some answers.\n\nIn some cases, the “ransomware” is really simply [scareware](https://www.welivesecurity.com/2015/04/23/ransomware-pay-cybercriminals/) which consists of sending messages to a potential victim stating that the individual’s files have been encrypted and demanding a ransom even though no files have been encrypted at all. Scareware is a maneuver which relies on two age-old vices: deception and taking advantage on another’s fear.\n\nBut in other instances, the encryption is quite real. It is then that a cybercriminal uses a filecoder to attack the hard drive of a victim’s device. It is this ransomware which is so dangerous. I have had some firsthand experience with the ugliness of ransomware. Recently, several of the digital services at the college campus I’m at were shut down due to a ransomware attack. Several days have gone by, and during this time professors and students alike have not been able to access the online platform where many course materials are stored.\n\nThankfully, this evening our ID cards began working again for cafeteria food swipes. As anyone can imagine, this has been quite an inconvenient predicament. And it still isn’t completely fixed.\n\nDespite our own current problems, there are procedures that may be effective in certain circumstances. There are decryption tools which can be found online and other possibilities to deal with mere scareware. Ransomware is a nasty bug and one which ought to be protected against.\n\nA good habit to prevent serious ransomware attacks is to regularly back up important files on another drive. It can be time-consuming, but it is not as severe as the headache caused by a successful ransomware attack.