[ad name=”Commission Junction”]Ransomware scams – where the attacker pretends to be local law enforcement, demanding a fake fine of between $100 to $500. First appearing in 2012 these threats escalated in 2013, and grew by 500 percent over the course of the year. These attacks are highly profitable and attackers have adapted them to ensure they remain profitable. The next step in this evolution was Ransomcrypt, commonly known as Cryptolocker. This is the most prominent of these threats and turns ransomware vicious by dropping all pretence of being law enforcement and is designed to encrypt a user’s files and request a ransom for the files to be unencrypted. This threat causes even more damage to businesses where not only the victims’ files are encrypted but also files on shared or attached network drives. Holding encrypted files for ransom is not entirely new, but getting the ransom paid has previously proven problematic for the crooks. With the appearance of online payment methods ransomcrypt is poised for growth in 2014. Small businesses and consumers are most at risk from losing data, files or memories. Prevention and backup are critical to protecting users from this type of attack.