It was just two days before the Thanksgiving holiday when 40-year-old Alina Simone, a Brooklyn, N.Y., musician and writer, received a frantic phone call.
It was her mother, and she was being "held hostage." Digitally speaking...
With panic in her voice, Simone's mother read the stark message displayed on her computer screen.
"Your files are encrypted," the message stated. "To get the key to decrypt files you have to pay $500. If you fail to pay within a week, the price will go up to $1,000. After that, your decryption key will be destroyed and any chance of accessing your files - all of your data - will be lost forever."
The message was signed "Sincerely, CryptoWall."
More than 5,000 files - irreplaceable family photos, critical work documents, life-sustaining bank statements, and other sensitive information - were now in the hands of cyberthieves.
Hysterical, and uncertain what to do, the Simones capitulated and paid their captors nearly $600.
Welcome to the new digital horror known as ransomware - a cyberthreat so colossal that security specialists are now classifying it as an "epidemic."
That's not hype.
It's a fact.
And I can prove it.
Better yet, I can show you how you can turn the tables, protect yourself, and then cash in big on this new threat - immediately