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Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that makes your computer or its files unusable unless you pay a fee. It can get onto your device in the same way as other malware or a virus.

Ransomware is a financially-motivated crime. Cybercriminals get individuals and organisations to pay by holding their information to ransom.

Watch this video to find out about ransomware and how to prevent it infecting your devices:

Use this guidance to learn about how to protect yourself from ransomware.

Tip: Proactively protect yourself from ransomware by creating regular backups of your important files and storing them offline.

Ransomware is one of the most frequent and damaging types of malware affecting people today. It can affect both individuals and organisations alike, and can impose significant costs in both recovery and down-time. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business, or whether you hold valuable information, the aim is to stop you from accessing the files that matter to you.

Typically, ransomware works by locking up or encrypting your files so that they can no longer be used, and some types are even designed to stop your computer from working entirely!

Warning: We recommend you do not pay the ransom if affected by ransomware. There is no guarantee paying the ransom will fix your computer, and it could make you vulnerable to further attacks. Restore your files from backup and seek technical advice.

Protect yourself from ransomware

Ransomware infects people’s computers in the same way as other types of malware. For example, attached to or linked from a malicious email, hiding on malicious websites or pretending to be useful applications on peer-to-peer networks.

The same advice to protect yourself against malware applies to ransomware, but the best way to reduce the impact of a ransomware incident is to create regular backups of your important files.

Take the following steps to significantly reduce your risk of being affected by ransomware and other malware:

What to do if your device is locked by ransomware

Use your backup to recover.

Visit No More Ransom for free assistance to help you retrieve your data without paying the criminals. Supported by the Australian Federal Police and other law enforcement and IT security companies worldwide, No More Ransom provides ransomware crime prevention advice and decryption tools to help victims recover their files.

If you’ve given your credit card or account details to pay the ransom, contact your financial institution immediately.