Ransomware like Cryptolocker uses Bitcoin, other virtual currencies for payment

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Attackers use malware to hold personal data hostage until victims shell out money to get it back. Here's how to prevent it from happening to you

More than 312,000 unique samples of ransomware appeared during Q3 last year, according to McAfee Labs Threat Report: Third Quarter 2013. "We see virtual currencies also experiencing massive growth," says Raj Samani, EMEA CTO, McAfee. With hackers combining the virtually untraceable currencies with ransomware attacks to ease fee collection, enterprise and end-user losses are certain to also multiply.

[Tips to avoid being bit by Cryptolocker (and what to do if you are)]

Apart from proper protection, enterprises, employees and consumers will reach for their e-wallets or face losing something of greater value than the typical US$300 ransom fees. Thankfully, those protections are within reach.

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