The ransomware outbreak that’s sweeping the internet, explained
According to experts, the software has spread by exploiting a vulnerability that was first revealed to the public in April. A hacking group called the Shadow Brokers posted a cache of hacking tools online that it hinted had been stolen from the National Security Agency.
The basic idea behind ransomware is simple: A criminal hacks into your computer, scrambles your files with unbreakable encryption, and then demands that you pay for the encryption key needed to unscramble the files. If you have important files on your computer, you might be willing to pay a lot to avoid losing them.