Ransomware is a particularly malicious form of malware that gains access to a user’s system and then proceeds to prevent them from accessing their own data. In some cases, the files on the system are encrypted so as to be irretrievable without the key and, in others, access is simply denied to the device’s owner. In both situations the hacker will demand a ransom is paid to un-encrypt the files or have access given back to the user. You could say it is traditional blackmail revolutionised for a digital age.
Ransomware is generally distributed via email, with the recipient inadvertently clicking on a malicious website link, or opening a harmful attachment.