Ransomware – it’s the online threat everyone’s talking about. Crypt0L0cker was one of the first on the scene in 2013; and since then, the costs of attacks continue to grow.

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    As an individual or business owner, you may be wondering just what ransomware is, what kind of risk it poses to you, and how attacks like these can occur.

    Here’s the breakdown.

    What is ransomware?

    Ransomware is a type of malware with the ability to silently encrypt your files, before demanding payment for their return – often with a time limit.

    And not only does ransomware target your most valuable files, like photos, documents and spreadsheets, it can also lock down system files to render your web browser, applications, and entire operating system unusable.

    Our VirusLab has analyzed many variants of ransomware, including the well-known Crypt0L0cker, Locky, and TeslaCrypt.

    But the threat isn’t limited to PCs. Both Android™ mobile devices and Macs can be infected as well.

    How does ransomware get on my PC?

    Most commonly, ransomware is spread via malicious email links and attachments – often concealed by changing the file extension and compressing the malicious code into a zip file. Opening the file infects your system.

    Ransomware can also be bundled into other applications, such as games, video players, etc. So any application from an unknown or untrusted publisher is a potential risk upon installation.

    Once on your system, ransomware works in the background, connecting to a remote server to encrypt single files, whole directories of files, or complete drives.

    How do I know if my PC is infected?

    You’ll see a message pop up demanding payment, which can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Payment must usually be made in some form of anonymous currency, like Bitcoin.

    But even if you pay the ransom, there are no guarantees your files will be unlocked.

    So naturally, this kind of malware has incredibly serious consequences, particularly for businesses holding sensitive customer information or internal data that’s not securely backed up.

    Does AVG protect against ransomware?

    It sure does. Both our PRO and FREE versions of PC antivirus provide protection against ransomware. This goes for AVG Business Editions, too.

    Our protection is multi-layered. Not only do we check against known malware variants and behavioral patterns in our virus database, we also further test previously unseen files in a secure virtual environment before they are executed on your PC. This is done using artificial intelligence, sophisticated behavioral analysis and various other methods.

    And we automatically update it all, so you stay protected.