What is ransomware and why is it a growing concern for consumers?  Consumers need to read the recent column by Alina Simone to learn more about this scary trend.  Her column described what happened when the latest ransomware virus invaded her Mother’s computer (www.nytimes; “How My Mom Got Hacked”; January 2nd online; January 4th page 1 in Sunday Review).   A virus can corrupt a computer when the user clicks on what seems to be a legitimate attachment or there’s an existing malware on the computer’s hard drive.

I will only summarize Ms. Simone’s lengthy column since people should read it.  Suffice it to say, that she and her Mother  experienced a scary and complicated situation.

As Ms. Simone explained, the ransomware virus locked all of the files on her Mother’s computer.   Her Mother learned this when a message came up on the screen telling her that she had to pay $500.00 in order to have the files unlocked.  The ransom would keep going up and up the longer her Mother failed to pay.  Her Mother’s computer files were held captive by the CryptoWall 2.0 virus.

In her article, Ms. Simone provides details about the steps her Mother tried to do, with her assistance, in order to get the files unlocked.  What made the situation even more difficult?  The CryptoWall thieves wanted to be paid only in Bitcoins.

Her Mother ultimately paid the fine although that was a decision made only after trying other avenues.  Her files were unlocked but only after Ms. Simone went through the complicated process of finding, buying and then sending the ransom in Bitcoins.

Finally, it was discouraging  to read Ms. Simone and her Mother learned — that being, that there doesn’t appear to be a technologically possible way for a consumer to decrypt his or her computer files once the CryptoWall 2.0 virus has encrypted the files.

Just another powerful reminder not to open attachments from unknown sources and to take the time to implement updated security measures.