A Ransomware attack is a horrible – and costly – experience

Having someone randomly take over your PC so you can’t us e it is a frightening and unpleasant experience.

Someone has control of the machine and there is little you can do about it.

The hackers will then be able to get into all your files, steal contact details – and financial details if you have them stored on the machine.

They may well impersonate a security team and ask you to phone them, then engage in supposedly helpful conversations that may keep you on the phone all day while they search your machine for useful information.

So what can you do?

Firstly do not store any sensitive information, passwords, financial or bank details on your computer.  Keep it all on an external hard drive where you can access it only when you need to.

Secondly, do not call numbers that claim to be from organisations claiming to be Microsoft, or other, security, no matter how authentic the on-screen information looks. Hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticate at reproducing company logos etc.

Never agree to paying for supposed security services that are actually supplied free by Microsoft and others.

As a precaution change all your passwords.

You may have to have your machine completely wiped and all programmes re-installed.

Ensure you have software installed to protect your machine from malware.

Report the attack to ActionFraud. It will protect you and others.

The aftermath of dealing with a ransomware attack may involve hours on the phone to your bank and other financial institutions and the whole thing can be devastating for mental health.