Ransomware doesn’t sneak into your PC like ordinary malware. It bursts in, points a gun at your data, and screams for cash—or else. And if you don’t learn to defend yourself, it could happen again and again, as the WannaCry or Wanna Decryptor outbreak is demonstrating.

WannaCry appears to leverage software the National Security Agency developed, and was then turned into malware. It’s already struck the U.K. National Health Service and several other banks and organizations.

Armed gangs of digital thieves roaming the information superhighway sounds like an overwrought action movie, but the numbers say it’s true: Ransomware attacks rose from 3.8 million in 2015 to 638 million in 2016, an increase of 167 times year over year, according to Sonicwall—even as the number of malware attacks declined. Why steal data when you can simply demand cash?

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