The message Ken Main received on his company computer demanding a ransom for the release of his data.

Something wasn’t right about the phone screen. It had gone dark. That’s when Nick Harvey examined it more closely. It looked odd. And it was then that he saw the message.

His smart phone had, in effect, been hijacked and he was being asked to pay a ransom.

“My device had been locked”, he told BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme.

He was being instructed “to send some money via a voucher code to get the phone unlocked”.

Ken Main knows how Nick felt. It happened to him with the computers at his hairdressing salon in Glasgow.

“It was a pale blue screen with the message right in the middle,” he explained. “If we wanted the information back we would have to pay a ransom.”
Cash call

They had both become victims of what is known as ransomware – a type of computer virus which unlocks the users out of their computers or phones and demands money for the return of the files.

“It’s like somebody breaking into your house”, Ken said.” It was a message which kind of created the same sort of emotional fear and then you start thinking ‘God, what happens if I can’t get this information back?’”

You are probably now trying to guess how much Ken and Nick were being asked to pay. It is possibly quite a lot lower than you would think.

“They asked me for $50 or €50” Nick recalled.

For Ken it was slightly more.

“They were looking for a ransom of $350 initially,” he said. “When we contacted them by email, they put that up to €1000.”

The demands are set at what is regarded as a payable level, according to Jornt van der Wiel from the security software company, Kaspersky Lab.

Source: BBC

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