The Internet is an amazing thing. Its ability to give you access to almost anything at anytime has changed the world, and can be a real blessing for people living in remote locations, of which we have plenty here in far north Queensland. But there are risks online – at its worst, the Internet is a shady back alley inhabited by spivs and swindlers ready to relieve you of your money, your data, your identity.

In most cases, they can only succeed if you let them in. There’s a new method being used by computer con-artists – it’s called ransom ware. This is a kind of malware, software that’s placed on your computer for malicious purposes. As the name suggests, ransom ware creates a situation you can’t resolve and you’re then asked for a payment to fix it – a ransom. Some are fake, put out there in the hope you’ll pay up before you check if any damage has been done. But others are the real deal, programs that encrypt your data, turning it into useless gibberish. These programs have found their way onto business computers and networks here in FNQ. And you don’t have to be doing anything dodgy or dangerous online to acquire ransom ware. It’s often picked up from seemingly legitimate, innocuous internet activity.

So – how can you avoid ransom ware, and what should you do if your computer or network becomes infected. ABC Far North IT expert Rob Rutten has this advice.

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