danger symbol on computer representing a cyber attack

Ransomware is a kind of malware (malicious software) criminals install on your computer so they can lock it from a remote location. Ransomware generates a pop-up window, webpage, or email warning from what looks like an official authority. It explains that your computer has been locked because of possible illegal activities on it and demands payment before you can access your files and programs again.

Avoiding Ransomware

There are several free ways to help protect your computer against ransomware and other malware:

  • Keep all of the software on your computer up to date. Make sure automatic updating is turned on to get all the latest Microsoft security updates.
  • Keep your firewall turned on.
  • Do not open spam email messages or click links on suspicious websites.
  • Download Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free, or use another reputable antivirus and anti-malware program. If you run Windows 8 or Windows RT, you don’t need Microsoft Security Essentials.
  • Scan your computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

Dealing with Ransomware

To detect and remove ransomware and other malicious software that might be installed on your computer, run a full-system scan with an appropriate, up-to-date, security solution. The following Microsoft products can detect and remove this threat:

Prosecuting Cyber Criminals

The unfortunate truth is ransomware originates in other countries. The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office will not be able to prosecute the criminals. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice pursues these criminals

Paying Ransom

It is recommended you do not pay the ransom. There is no guarantee your information will be unlocked or that your information will never be used again.

Victims of Ransomware

If you have been a victim of an internet scam, please file a complaint online. Please visit the FBI’s E-Scams and Warnings website for more information.