It is unfortunately likely the next big thing in hacking, Ransomware.
Im Brian Cooley from CNET always in search of the next big thing.
Ransomware is, I must say, a hot trend in exploits, hacks, what have you.
The idea is simple.
Attacking your machine to get to your data, but instead of taking it and then going and doing something nefarious with it, you leave it in place and encrypt it.
You lock it up so you can't get to it until you pay a ransom.
to the hacker that locked it up.
This could happen to an individual, a small business or to a large organization.
Infuriatingly if you are the victim of a ransom or attack on your own personal machine and they're fairly rare still but growing there's a weird grey area you may find yourself in.
The amount of money and the scale of the crime Is being perpetrated.
It's probably not big enough to get a lot of FBI attention.
And on the other hand, if you get stubborn and push back against the person holding your data for ransom, the amount of money is not enough for them to stick around.
They'll just move on and leave your data encrypted.
The great option you do have is before the attack occurs, and once again backup becomes import but in a special way.
Really consider a cloud backup because many of the ransomware attacks can also seek out other data devices on the local network and perhaps attack them as well.
Scrupulously follow the usual skepticism about unrecognized email attachments and make sure you're running a firewall somewhere on your network.
As usual, hacking has generally always been about financial gain, but seldom has it been this directly so.
I'm Brian Cooley, know what's next at CNET.com/NextBigThing.