SUMMARY: Ransomware, a type of software that computer hackers use to hold individuals' data hostage by blocking access to files unless they agree to pay a ransom, is on the rise. And because anyone with an internet connection is vulnerable, the problem highlights a growing threat that consumers face on both their personal computers and mobile devices.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour): Inna Simone is retired, a mother and grandmother from Russia who now lives outside of Boston. Last November, her home computer started acting strangely.
INNA SIMONE: My computer was working terribly. It was not working, I mean, it was so slow.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A few days later, while searching through her computer files, Inna saw dozens of these messages — they were all the same. They read: “Your files are encrypted. To get the key to decrypt them, you have to pay $500 dollars.” Her exact deadline — December 2nd at 12:48 pm – was just a few days away.
All her files were locked — tax returns, financial papers, letters — even the precious photos of her granddaughter Zoe. Inna couldn’t open any of them.
INNA SIMONE: It says, “If you won’t pay, within one week or whatever, your fine will double. If you won’t pay by then, all your files will be deleted and you will lose them forever and never will get back."