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Your PC as a Hostage

As a hostage, it was treated pretty well.  No blindfold.  No tied hands or leg shackles.  Not even a dank dark room devoid of furniture.  In fact, it sat in its usual place – climate controlled, bright lighting and a caring parent by it’s side.  But, it was still a hostage and the ransom was not cheap.

So goes the tale of a laptop I read about recently in the NY Times.  I had never pondered the prospect of a crime taking place in my own home, or the hotel I am at,  or maybe even while I am working. Now I know differently.

If you don’t know what Ransomware is, you are about to.  I have to admit, it was something totally new to me, but it turns out that even crime has made it to the cloud.  Apparently the so-called thieves hijack your PC through a virus and demand payment to release it.  I guess the process of kidnapping the family member of some multi-millionaire seems so old school.  Seriously, why would you risk a lengthy jail time grabbing one person, holding them hostage, negotiating a ransom, and trying to evade the police (for a lifetime) when you can electronically attack millions of people at the same time with such a basic ruse?

In the end, it reminds me of the vulnerabilities of any cloud and the precautions you need to take to protect yourself.  My mother used to tell me that an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure.  In this case, prevention is a pretty valuable tool.  While 99% of all software programs bring value to our lives, the most valuable may be the tools that prevent the 1% from doing more harm than any of us want to deal with.  And now, apparently a hostage ordeal with your PC is yet another way some faceless thug has devised on the premise of quick cash. Crazy! Is your smartphone next?

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