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Strona głównaNews in EnglishWhen your computer life is held for ransom

When your computer life is held for ransom

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Imagine if everything on your computer was “kidnapped” — including all of your precious family photos and important personal documents. And the only way you could access any of it again was if you paid a lot of money — or bitcoins — to a hacker. Even if you pay, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your stuff back.

Sounds like something out of a movie, right? Unfortunately, it’s happening in real life. It’s called ransomware. You might’ve heard news stories about ransomware attacks on hospitals, universities, and other large organizations, too.

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Hackers do it by encrypting files on your computer — and files you’ve saved to connected hard drives or any shared folders. Once the files are encrypted you won’t be able to open them without the encryption key — which you can get only if you pay the amount hackers demand. That could be hundreds or thousands of dollars.

It’s a serious problem. That’s why the FTC is holding a ransomware event on September 7 in Washington, DC. We’ll talk with security experts, law enforcers, and others about what steps people and businesses can take to protect their computers — and what to do if you’re a victim.

by Aditi Jhaveri
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Poto: Justin Lane/EPA

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