Ransomware is the offshoot of malware in which a hacker crafts a package such that, once deployed to your system, your files become encrypted and you are forced to pay the hacker a ‘ransom’ in real dollars to decrypt the data. The most widely known variation of ransomware to date has been Cryptolocker. Ransomware made big inroads during 2012 and 2013, but was curtailed in May of 2014 by an FBI sting that largely cut off Cryptolocker. However, ESG is seeing trends that suggest ransomware is about to make a comeback. You can read more about emerging trends on ransomware in this CNN article.
The best protections against ransomware remain vigilance and commonsense. When surfing the web or reading e-mail, remain alert to links that say one thing but when you hover over them say something else. Use commonsense when dealing with e-mails about packages or faxes you are not expecting. Also avoid downloading or running any plug-ins or programs that purport to speed up your computer, ‘update’ your anti-virus, or track packages.