Ransomware is a form of malware which can infect the device, usually once the user has opened a malicious attachment in an email, clicked on a malicious link, or visited a corrupt website.
Once the virus is downloaded, the cybercriminals are then able to lock the device from a remote location and take over personal files such as images and documents.
A pop-up page will then launch informing the owner that the device will not be unlocked until a sum of money is paid to the fraudster.
In some cases, the pop-up may accuse the user of illegal activity or change the locked screen to a pornographic image.
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This makes it more difficult for some victims to seek help from anybody else and simply resort to paying the ransom fee.
Digital PCSO Shevani Raichura, from Derbyshrie Constabulary, said: “In the UK alone there are more than 57 million people heading online each day, this is around two per cent of the worlds internet use.
“Compared to the number of transactions carried out online each day, ransomware is a very small issue. However, on the rare occasion that you are faced with a suspicious email, early identification of fraud will enable you to spot the signs and help you take the right preventative steps to remain safe online.
“This includes being wary of opening email attachments from an unknown source, and ensuring that your anti-virus and firewall software is activated and up to date.”
Simple and effective steps can be put in place to further project yourself from ransomware viruses.
For helpful information and advice, visit the dedicated Protect Yourself Online web hub at www.derbyshire.police.uk/Cybercrime.