Ransomware is malware designed to prevent the owner of a device from accessing stored data or from using a device entirely. The malware locks the user out of the device, often using encryption, and demands payment in exchange for returning the device. This is why it is called ransomware.

Scammers will sometimes use ransomware to impersonate government offices or will threaten to release sensitive information to demand payment. Law enforcement will never send such messages. It is important not to pay any ransom. Ransomware tries to intimidate the user and there is no guarantee that the scammers will restore your device after payment.  Instead, you should report the incident and seek professional help to try restoring your device.

There are some steps you can take to protect against ransomware. Maintaining backups and good data security can minimize the harm caused by ransomware. You can also protect your devices against infection by observing basic security practices. Use antivirus software and do not open unknown email attachments to prevent the spread of ransomware.

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