Ransomware is a scam that involves you unwittingly downloading malware that freezes your computer and displays a notice that states that unless you pay a sum of money, your computer will not be unlocked. The most recent type of malware being used is called Reveton. In some variations of ransomware, the criminals are brazen and admit that they are criminals, demanding a ransom or else they will destroy your computer. In other versions of this scam, the notice appears to come from a law enforcement agency telling you that you have violated the law and must pay a fine within a short period of time. I have warned you about variations of this scam, on July 9th, August 8th and December 3rd. The latest variation of the scam now circulating involves a message that appears to come from the FBI and indicates that your computer has been used for distributing child pornography and that you must pay a fine within 72 hours. Do not respond to this message if you get it. It is a scam. Do not pay the money.
The best way to resolve a problem is to avoid it in the first place. Make sure that your computer is protected with a good Firewall as well as constantly updated security software. However, like the flu shot, security software is not fully effective so you should always be careful about not clicking on links or downloading attachments unless you are absolutely positive that they are legitimate. It is also important to remember that real friends of yours might unwittingly pass on tainted attachments so make sure that what you download is legitimate. If you do receive this kind of notice, get a professional to clear your computer of the malware. Also, independently backup all of your data so that even if your computer were to be frozen by hackers, you would not lose your data.