Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to infect a computer and hold its data ransom until a sum of money is paid for it to be unlocked. This is typically accomplished by encrypting the victim’s files so that it can’t be decrypted without the key which only the attacker has access to. Payment is then rendered via a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin so that the transaction cannot be traced by law enforcement.
Generally, ransomware infects a computer by entering a users system through files that users think are legitimate. Once the files are executed, the ransomware is deployed with it. The ransomware can then either stay dormant or can immediately unleash its payload, locking the users out of their files.